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CH$STL REGIS 
BIB, MAJ, 
fOBONTON 



ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



Smprtmatur 



HERBERTUS CARDINALIS VAUGHAN 

ARCHIEPISCOPUS WESTMONASTERIENSIS 



Die 12 Augusti 1898 



ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



ON 



HOLY IMAGES 

(TT/OO? TOU? SiaftaXXovras rcf? ay /a? eiicd 



FOLLOWED BY 

THREE SERMONS ON THE ASSUMPTION 

(KOI//. ?/o-i 9) 

TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL GREEK 
BY 

MARY H. ALLIES 



COLL, CHRISTI REOIS 
BIBv MAJ, 
TORONTON 



Xon&on 
THOMAS BAKER 

i SOHO SQUARE, W. 
1898 



2077 



TRANSLATOR S PREFACE 

A TREATISE on Images will not be out of place 
in a public, which is confusing the making of 
images with the making of idols. A great 
Christian of the eighth century found himself 
called upon to face an imperial Iconoclast. He 
would willingly have remained silent, but he 
would not bury his talent of eloquence. He 
brought it forth and witnessed to the teaching 
of the Church in language which present 
exciting scenes in Anglican churches brings 
home in the most forcible way. Our English 
image breakers are in the camp of Leo the 
I saurian, who in the eighth century waged war 
against holy images, on the plausible pretext 
that they withdrew honour from God. The 
seventh General Council condemned his as 
sault, and it determined the different kinds of 
worship, using the Greek terms of latreia and 
douleia. The special champion of holy Images 
is St John Damascene, whose treatise is now 



Vlii PREFACE 



published for the first time in English. Every 
article in the creed has its special defender. 
St John Damascene proclaims the Communion 
of Saints and the honour of God through His 
chosen and favoured servants. No part of 
Catholic belief is a vain word, nor can the true 
children of the Church say with their lips what 
they do not hold in their hearts. I believe in 
the Communion of Saints follows upon I 
believe in God, so that the enemies of the 
Saints are the enemies of God. This is the 
doctrine which St John Damascene traces back 
to the eternal ages before time was, in the 
divine KCOI/ of the Father in the Person of the 
Son. God, the Son, is the Image by essence, 
and then He becomes a visible image or form 
in time, clothed in flesh and blood, showing us 
by His own example that our worship of God 
is through corporeal things. Again and again 
the Saint repeats that as we must not make an 
image of the Invisible God, so neither must we 
refuse to look upon the Son, His Image, first 
in eternity, and then Incarnate. 

What are the consequences of rejecting 
divinely appointed images? Hopeless and 
heart-destroying doubt caused by the undue 



PREFACE IX 

exaltation of humanity : in other words, creature, 
instead of divine, worship. We are so con 
stituted that images we must have : our minds 
cannot reach God s throne without the help of 
corporeal things. Agnosticism has said it. We 
cannot love what we do not know, and is not 
God unknowable ? Halting formularies say it 
when they point to matter, which God has 
glorified, as inglorious. And halting formularies 
lead to halting souls, and to the proclamation 
of the strange device that religious truth is of 
no consequence so long as men lead good lives. 
The sermons on the Assumption were 
preached by the Saint in or about A.D. 727. 
According to Alban Butler, he had special 
reasons for honouring the Mother of God. 
By her intercession he regained the use of his 
strong right hand. It was a practical demon 
stration of Catholic teaching, We reach God 
most surely through those who love Him best, 
and thus the Protestant phrase, which ex 
presses a purely Catholic thought * straight to 
God, is exemplified in the Communion of 
Saints. St John s language about the QcoroKrj 
will astonish those who stigmatise the love of 
her as a Roman corruption. The crowning 



PREFACE 



triumph of the Assumption follows justly on 
the divine maternity. Her body was all pure, 
because her all holy (-n-avayia) soul made it the 
resting-place of our Lord. The Mother is so 
identified with the Son that her life is part of 
His. The tomb is not for her, and thus the 
writer of the eighth century bears full testimony 
to Catholic tradition. 

All believers are at one in wishing to reach 
God ; the question is one of detail. Which is 
the shortest road ? St John Damascene speaks 
with the Church when he says it is through the 
glorification of matter in the Person of the 
Eternal Word. Either give matter its proper 
place, or take away matter which the Lord 
Himself has exalted, and we are no longer 
composite beings, but spirits ill at ease in a 
material world. Take away the King s army, 
and you uncrown the King Himself. Forget 
His Mother, and with her the connecting link 
between earth and heaven. Then we may be 
heathens once more, groping after the unknown 
God, and our latter state will be more appalling 
than the heathendom of old, before the light 
had appeared to illumine earth s dark places. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

PART I. APOLOGIA OF ST JOHN DAMASCENE 
AGAINST THOSE WHO DECRY HOLY 
IMAGES . -I 

II. THE SAME . 55 

III. THE SAME . 87 

SERMON I. ON THE ASSUMPTION . ,147 

II. THE SAME I7 1 

III. THE SAME . .201 



XI 



PART I. 

APOLOGIA OF ST JOHN DAMASCENE AGAINST 
THOSE WHO DECRY HOLY IMAGES. 

WITH the ever-present conviction of my own 
unworthiness, I ought to have kept silence and 
confessed my shortcomings before God, but all 
things are good at the right time. I see the 
Church which God founded on the Apostles 
and Prophets, its corner-stone being Christ His 
Son, tossed on an angry sea, beaten by rushing 
waves, shaken and troubled by the assaults of 
evil spirits. I see rents in the seamless robe of 
Christ, which impious men have sought to part 
asunder, and His body cut into pieces, that is, 
the word of God and the ancient tradition of 
the Church. Therefore I have judged it un 
reasonable to keep silence and to hold my 
tongue, bearing in mind the Scripture warn 
ing : If thou withdrawest thyself, my soul 
shall not delight in thee, and * If thou seest 



ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



the sword coming and dost not warn thy 
brother, I shall require his blood at thy hand. 
Fear, then, compelled me to speak ; the truth 
was stronger than the majesty of kings. * I 
bore testimony to Thee before kings, I heard 
the royal * David saying, * and I was not 
ashamed. No, I was the more incited to 
speak. The King s command is all powerful 
over his subjects. For few men have hitherto 
been found who, whilst recognising the power 
of the earthly king to come from above, have 
resisted his unlawful demands. 

In the first place, grasping as a kind of 
pillar, or foundation, the teaching of the Church, 
which is our salvation, I have opened out its 
meaning, giving, as it were, the reins to a well- 
caparisoned charger.")" For I look upon it as a 
great calamity that the Church, adorned with 
her great privileges and the holiest examples of 
saints in the past, should go back to the first 
rudiments, and fear where there is no fear. It 
is disastrous to suppose that the Church does 
not know God as He is, that she degenerates 
into idolatry, for if she declines from perfection 

* Qeo-n-arup, not easily rendered in English. 

f Kai TOVTOV ticrirep itrirov eiV^dAfi OP , TTJS dfierypta.? 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 



in a single iota, it is as an enduring mark on a 
comely face, destroying by its unsightliness the 
beauty of the whole. A small thing is not 
small when it leads to something great, nor 
indeed is it a thing of no matter to give up the 
ancient tradition of the Church held by our 
forefathers, whose conduct we should observe, 
and whose faith we should imitate. 

In the first place, then, before speaking to 
you, I beseech Almighty God, to whom all 
things lie open, who knows my small capacity 
and my genuine intention, to bless the words 
of my mouth, and to enable me to bridle my 
mind and direct it to Him, to walk in His 
presence straightly, not declining to a plausible 
right hand, nor knowing the left. Then I ask 
all God s people, the chosen ones of His royal 
priesthood, with the holy shepherd of Christ s 
orthodox flock, who represents in his own 
person Christ s priesthood, to receive my 
treatise with kindness. They must not dwell 
on my unworthiness, nor seek for eloquence, 
for I am only too conscious of my shortcom 
ings. They must consider the thoughts them 
selves. The kingdom of heaven is not in word 
but in deed. Conquest is not my object. I 



ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



raise a hand which is fighting for the truth a 
willing hand under the divine guidance. Rely 
ing, then, upon substantial truth as my auxiliary, 
I will enter on my subject matter. 

I have taken heed to the words of Truth 
Himself: The Lord thy God is one. And 
Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and shalt 
serve Him only, and thou shalt not have 
strange gods. Again, Thou shalt not make 
to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of 
anything that is in heaven above, or in the 
earth beneath ; and Let them be all con 
founded that adore graven things. Again, 
The gods that have not made heaven and 
earth, let them perish, In this way God spoke 
of old to the patriarchs through the prophets, 
and lastly, through His only-begotten Son, on 
whose account He made the ages. He says, 
This is eternal life, that they may know Thee, 
the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom 
Thou didst send. I believe in one God, the 
source of all things, without beginning, un 
created, immortal, everlasting, incomprehen 
sible, bodiless, invisible, uncircumscribed,* with 
out form. I believe in one supersubstantial 
s, i.e., not in place. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 5 



being, one divine Godhead in three entities, 
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, 
and I adore Him alone with the worship 
of latreia. I adore one God, one Godhead 
but three Persons, God the Father, God the 
Son made flesh, and God the Holy Ghost, one 
God. I do not adore creation more than the 
Creator, but I adore the creature created as I 
am, adopting creation freely and spontaneously 
that He might elevate our nature and make us 
partakers of His divine nature. Together with 
my Lord and King I worship Him clothed in 
the flesh, not as if it were a garment or He 
constituted a fourth person of the Trinity 
God forbid. That flesh is divine, and endures 
after its assumption. Human nature was not 
lost in the Godhead, but just as the Word 
made flesh remained the Word, so flesh became 
the Word remaining flesh, becoming, rather, 
one with the Word through union (/caO VTTOV- 
Taviv). Therefore I venture to draw an image 
of the invisible God, not as invisible, but as 
having become visible for our sakes through 
flesh and blood. I do not draw an image of 
the immortal Godhead. I paint the visible 
flesh of God, for it is impossible to represent 



ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



a spirit (\^uxi), how much more God who gives 
breath to the spirit. 

Now adversaries say : God s commands to 
Moses the law-giver were, Thou shalt adore 
the Lord thy God, and thou shalt worship him 
alone, and thou shalt not make to thyself a 
graven thing that is in heaven above, or in the 
earth beneath. 

They err truly, not knowing the Scriptures, 
for the letter kills whilst the spirit quickens 
not finding in the letter the hidden meaning. 
I could say to these people, with justice, He 
who taught you this would teach you the 
following. Listen to the law-giver s interpreta 
tion in Deuteronomy : And the Lord spoke 
to you from the midst of the fire. You heard 
the voice of His words, but you saw not any 
form at all. And shortly afterwards : Keep 
your souls carefully. You saw not any simili 
tude in the day that the Lord God spoke to 
you in Horeb from the midst of the fire, lest 
perhaps being deceived you might make you a 
graven similitude, or image of male and female, 
the similitude of any beasts that are upon the 
earth, or of birds that fly under heaven. And 
again, Lest, perhaps, lifting up thy eyes to 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 



heaven, thou see the sun and the moon, and 
all the stars of heaven, and being deceived by 
error thou adore and serve them. 

You see the one thing to be aimed at is not 
to adore a created thing more than the Creator, 
nor to give the worship of latreia except to 
Him alone. By worship, consequently, He 
always understands the worship of latreia. 
For, again, He says : * Thou shalt not have 
strange gods other than Me. Thou shalt not 
make to thyself a graven thing, nor any 
similitude. Thou shalt not adore them, and 
thou shalt not serve them, for I am the Lord 
thy God. And again, * Overthrow their altars, 
and break down their statues ; burn their groves 
with fire, and break their idols in pieces. For 
thou shalt not adore a strange god. And 
a little further on : Thou shalt not make to 
thyself gods of metal. 

You see that He forbids image-making on 
account of idolatry, and that it is impossible to 
make an image of the immeasurable, un- 
circumscribed, invisible God. You have not 
seen the likeness of Him, the Scripture says, 
and this was St Paul s testimony as he stood in 
the midst of the Areopagus : Being, therefore, 



8 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

the offspring of God, we must not suppose the 
divinity to be like unto gold, or silver, or stone, 
the graving of art, and device of man. 

These injunctions were given to the Jews on 
account of their proneness to idolatry. Now 
we, on the contrary, are no longer in leading 
strings. Speaking theologically, it is given to 
us to avoid superstitious error, to be with God 
in the knowledge of the truth, to worship God 
alone, to enjoy the fulness of His knowledge. 
We have passed the stage of infancy, and 
reached the perfection of manhood. We receive 
our habit of mind from God, and know what 
may be imaged and what may not. The 
Scripture says, You have not seen the likeness 
of Him. What wisdom in the law-giver. How 
depict the invisible ? How picture the in 
conceivable? How give expression to the 
limitless, the immeasurable, the invisible? 
How give a form to immensity? How paint 
immortality? How localise mystery? It is 
clear that when you contemplate God, who is 
a pure spirit, becoming man for your sake, 
you will be able to clothe Him with the human 
form. When the Invisible One becomes visible 
to flesh, you may then draw a likeness of His 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 



form. When He who is a pure spirit, without 
form or limit, immeasurable in the boundless 
ness of His own nature, existing as God, takes 
upon Himself the form of a servant in substance 
and in stature, and a body of flesh, then you 
may draw His likeness, and show it to anyone 
willing to contemplate it. Depict His ineffable 
condescension, His virginal birth, His baptism 
in the Jordan, His transfiguration on Thabor, 
His all-powerful sufferings, His death and 
miracles, the proofs of His Godhead, the deeds 
which He worked in the flesh through divine 
power, His saving Cross, His Sepulchre, and 
resurrection, and ascent into heaven. Give to 
it all the endurance of engraving and colour. 
Have no fear or anxiety ; worship is not all of 
the same kind. Abraham worshipped the sons 
of Emmor, impious men in ignorance of God, 
when he bought the double cave for a tomb. 
Jacob worshipped his brother Esau and Pharao, 
the Egyptian, but on the point of his staff.* 
He worshipped, he did not adore. Josue and 
Daniel worshipped an angel of God ; they did 
not adore him. The worship of latreia is one 
thing, and the worship which is given to merit 

xai eiri T& &Kpov TTjs pdj3dov. 



10 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

another. Now, as we are talking of images 
and worship, let us analyse the exact meaning 
of each. An image is a likeness of the original 
with a certain difference, for it is not an exact 
reproduction of the original. Thus, the Son is 
the living, substantial, unchangeable Image of 
the invisible God, bearing in Himself the whole 
Father, being in all things equal to Him, differ 
ing only in being begotten by the Father, who 
is the Begetter ; the Son is begotten. The 
Father does not proceed from the Son, but the 
Son from the Father. It is through the Son, 
though not after Him, that He is what He 
is, the Father who generates. In God, too, 
there are representations and images of His 
future acts, that is to say, His counsel from 
all eternity, which is ever unchangeable. That 
which is divine is immutable ; there is no 
change in Him, nor shadow of change. 
Blessed Denis (the Carthusian) who has made 
divine things in God s presence his study, says 
that these representations and images are 
marked out beforehand. In His counsels, God 
has noted and settled all that He would do, the 
unchanging future events before they came to 
pass. In the same way, a man who wished to 



TREATISE ON IMAGES I I 

build a house, would first make and think out 
a plan. Again, visible things are images of 
invisible and intangible things, on which they 
throw a faint light. Holy Scripture clothes in 
figure God and the angels, and the same holy 
man (Blessed Denis) explains why. When 
sensible things sufficiently render what is 
beyond sense, and give a form to what is 
intangible, a medium would be reckoned 
imperfect according to our standard, if it did 
not fully represent material vision, or if it 
required effort of mind. If, therefore, Holy 
Scripture, providing for our need, ever putting 
before us what is intangible, clothes it in flesh, 
does it not make an image of what is thus 
invested with our nature, and brought to the 
level of our desires, yet invisible ? A certain 
conception through the senses thus takes place 
in the brain, which was not there before, and is 
transmitted to the judicial faculty, and added to 
the mental store. Gregory, who is so eloquent 
about God, says that the mind which is set 
upon getting beyond corporeal things, is in 
capable of doing it. For the invisible things of 
God since the creation of the world are made 
visible through images. We see images in 



I 2 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



creation which remind us faintly of God, as 
when, for instance, we speak of the holy and 
adorable Trinity, imaged by the sun, or light, 
or burning rays, or by a running fountain, or a 
full river, or by the mind, speech, or the spirit 
within us, or by a rose tree, or a sprouting 
flower, or a sweet fragrance. 

Again, an image is expressive of something 
in the future, mystically shadowing forth what 
is to happen. For instance, the ark represents 
the image of Our Lady, Mother of God,* so 
does the staff and the earthen jar. The serpent 
brings before us Him who vanquished on the 
Cross the bite of the original serpent ; the sea, 
water, and the cloud the grace of baptism. 

Again, things which have taken place are 
expressed by images for the remembrance 
either of a wonder, or an honour, or dishonour, 
or good or evil, to help those who look upon 
it in after times that we may avoid evils and 
imitate goodness. It is of two kinds, the 
written image in books, as when God had the 
law inscribed on tablets, and when He enjoined 
that the lives of holy men should be recorded 
and sensible memorials be preserved in re- 

* Trjv ayiav irapOtvov /cat OCOTOKOV. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 13 



membrance ; as, for instance, the earthen jar 
and the staff in the ark. So now we preserve 
in writing the images and the good deeds of 
the past. Either, therefore, take away images 
altogether and be out of harmony with God 
who made these regulations, or receive them 
with the language and in the manner which 
befits them. In speaking of the manner let us 
go into the question of worship. 

Worship is the symbol of veneration and of 
honour. Let us understand that there are 
different degrees of worship. First of all the 
worship of latreia, which we show to God, who 
alone by nature is worthy of worship. Then, 
for the sake of God who is worshipful by 
nature, we honour His saints and servants, as 
Josue and Daniel worshipped an angel, and 
David His holy places, when he says, Let 
us go to the place where His feet have stood. 
Again, in His tabernacles, as when all the 
people of Israel adored in the tent, and stand 
ing round the temple in Jerusalem, fixing their 
gaze upon it from all sides, and worshipping 
from that day to this, or in the rulers estab 
lished by Him, as Jacob rendered homage to 
Esau, his elder brother, and to Pharao, the 



14 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



divinely established ruler. Joseph was wor 
shipped by his brothers. I am aware that 
worship was based on honour, as in the case 
of Abraham and the sons of Emmor. Either, 
then, do away with worship, or receive it alto 
gether according to its proper measure. 

Answer me this question. Is there only one 
God ? You answer, Yes, there is only one 
Law-giver. Why, then, does He command 
contrary things ? The cherubim are not out 
side of creation ; why, then, does He allow 
cherubim carved by the hand of man to over 
shadow the mercy-seat? Is it not evident that 
as it is impossible to make an image of God, 
who is uncircumscribed and impassible, or of 
one like to God, creation should not be 
worshipped as God. He allows the image of 
the cherubim who are circumscribed,* and 
prostrate in adoration before the divine throne, 
to be made, and thus prostrate to overshadow 
the mercy-seat. It was fitting that the image 
of the heavenly choirs should overshadow the 
divine mysteries. Would you say that the ark 
and staff and mercy-seat were not made ? Are 

* A reference to the question treated by St Thomas 
after St John Damascene : utrum angelus sit in loco. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 15 

they not produced by the hand of man ? Are 
they not due to what you call contemptible 
matter? What was the tabernacle itself? 
Was it not an image ? Was it not a type 
and a figure? Hence the holy Apostle s words 
concerning the observances of the law, Who 
serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly 
things. As it was answered to Moses, when 
he was to finish the tabernacle: See (He 
says), that thou make all things according to 
the pattern which was shown thee on the 
Mount. But the law was not an image. It 
shrouded the image. In the words of the same 
Apostle, the law contains the shadow of the 
goods to come, not the image of those things. 
For if the law should forbid images, and yet be 
itself a forerunner of images, what should we 
say? If the tabernacle was a figure, and the 
type of a type, why does the law not prohibit 
image-making? But this is not in the least 
the case. There is a time for everything. 

Of old, God the incorporeal and uncircum- 
scribed was never depicted. Now, however, 
when God is seen clothed in flesh, and con 
versing with men, I make an image of the 
God whom I see. I do not worship matter, I 



1 6 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

worship the God of matter, who became 
matter for my sake, and deigned to inhabit 
matter, who worked out my salvation through 
matter. I will not cease from honouring that 
matter which works my salvation. I venerate 
it, though not as God. How could God be 
born out of lifeless things ? And if God s body 
is God by union ( Ka O vTroa-raa-iv), it is immutable. 
The nature of God remains the same as before, 
the flesh created in time is quickened by a 
logical and reasoning soul. I honour all matter 
besides, and venerate it. Through it, filled, as 
it were, with a divine power and grace, my 
salvation has come to me. Was not the thrice 
happy and thrice blessed wood of the Cross 
matter ? Was not the sacred and holy mountain 
of Calvary matter ? What of the life-giving 
rock, the Holy Sepulchre, the source of our 
resurrection : was it not matter ? Is not the 
most holy book of the Gospels matter? Is not 
the blessed table matter which gives us the 
Bread of Life ? Are not the gold and silver 
matter, out of which crosses and altar-plate and 
chalices are made ? And before all these 
things, is not the body and blood of our Lord 
matter? Either do away with the veneration 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 1 7 

and worship due to all these things, or submit 
to the tradition of the Church in the worship of 
images, honouring God and His friends, and 
following in this the grace of the Holy Spirit. 
Do not despise matter, for it is not despicable. 
Nothing is that which God has made. This is 
the Manichean heresy. That alone is despic 
able which does not come from God, but is 
our own invention, the spontaneous choice of 
will to disregard the natural law, that is to 
say, sin. If, therefore, you dishonour and give 
up images, because they are produced by 
matter, consider what the Scripture says : And 
the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Behold 
I have called by name Beseleel, the son of Uri, 
the son of Hur, of the tribe of Juda. And I have 
filled him with the spirit of God, with wisdom 
and understanding, and knowledge in all 
manner of work. To devise whatsoever may 
be artificially made of gold, and silver, and 
brass, of marble and precious stones, and 
variety of wood. And I have given him for 
his companion, Ooliab, the son of Achisamech, 
of the tribe of Dan. And I have put wisdom 
in the heart of every skilful man, that they may 
make all things which I have commanded thee. 



1 8 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

And again : Moses said to all the assembly of 
the children of Israel : This is the word the 
Lord hath commanded, saying : Set aside with 
you first fruits to the Lord. Let every one 
that is willing and hath a ready heart, offer 
them to the Lord, gold, and silver, and brass, 
violet, and purple, and scarlet twice dyed, and 
fine linen, goat s hair, and ram s skins died red 
and violet, coloured skins, selim-wood, and oil 
to maintain lights and to make ointment, and 
most sweet incense, onyx stones, and precious 
stones for the adorning of the ephod and the 
rational. Whosoever of you is wise, let him 
come, and make that which the Lord hath 
commanded. See you here the glorification 
of matter which you make inglorious. What 
is more insignificant than goat s hair or colours ? 
Are not scarlet and purple and hyacinth colours ? 
Now, consider the handiwork of man becoming 
the likeness of the cherubim. How, then, can 
you make the law a pretence for giving up 
what it orders? If you invoke it against 
images, you should keep the Sabbath, and 
practise circumcision. It is certain that if 
you observe the law, Christ will not profit 
you. You who are justified in the law, you 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 19 



are fallen from grace. Israel of old did not see 
God, but we see the Lord s glory face to face. 
We proclaim Him also by our senses on all 
sides, and we sanctify the noblest sense, which 
is that of sight. The image is a memorial, just 
what words are to a listening ear. What a 
book is to the literate, that an image is to the 
illiterate. The image speaks to the sight as 
words to the ear ; it brings us understanding. 
Hence God ordered the ark to be made of 
imperishable wood, and to be gilded outside 
and in, and the tablets to be put in it, and the 
staff and the golden urn containing the manna, 
for a remembrance of the past and a type of the 
future. Who can say these were not images 
and far-sounding heralds ? And they did not 
hang on the walls of the tabernacle ; but in 
sight of all the people who looked towards 
them, they were brought forward for the 
worship and adoration of God, who made 
use of them. It is evident that they were not 
worshipped for themselves, but that the people 
were led through them to remember past signs, 
and to worship the God of wonders. They 
were images to serve as recollections, not divine, 
but leading to divine things by divine power. 



20 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

And God ordered twelve stones to be taken 
out of the Jordan, and specified why. For he 
says : When your son asks you the meaning 
of these stones, tell him how the water left the 
Jordan by the divine command, and how the 
ark was saved and the whole people. How, 
then, shall we not record on image the saving 
pains and wonders of Christ our Lord, so that 
when my child asks me, What is this ? I 
may say, that God the W T ord became man, and 
that for His sake not Israel alone passed 
through the Jordan, but all the human race 
gained their original happiness. Through 
Him human nature rose from the lowest 
depths of the earth higher than the skies, and 
in His Person sat down on the throne His 
Father had prepared for Him. 

But the adversary says : Make an image of 
Christ or of His mother who bore Him (r?}? 
OeoroKov), and let that be sufficient. O what 
folly this is ! On your own showing, you are 
absolutely against the saints. For if you make 
an image of Christ and not of the saints, it is 
evident that you do not disown images, but 
the honour of the saints. You make statues 
indeed of Christ as of one glorified, whilst you 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 21 

reject the saints as unworthy of honour, and 
call truth a falsehood. * I live, says the Lord, 
and I will glorify those who glorify Me. 
And the divine Apostle : therefore now he is 
not a servant, but a son. And if a son, an 
heir also through God. Again, If we suffer 
with Him, that we also may be glorified: 
you are not waging war against images, but 
against the saints. St John, who rested on 
His breast, says, that we shall be like to Him : 
just as a man by contact with fire becomes 
fire, not by nature, but by contact and by 
burning and by participation, so is it, I appre 
hend, with the flesh of the Crucified Son of 
God. That flesh, by participation through 
union (/ca0 virocrraa-iv) with the divine nature, 
was unchangeably God, not in virtue of grace 
from God as was the case with each of the 
prophets, but by the presence of the Fountain 
Head Himself. God, the Scripture says, 
stood in the synagogue of the gods, so that the 
saints, too, are gods. Holy Gregory takes the 
words, God stands in the midst of the gods, 
to mean that He discriminates their several 
merits. The saints in their lifetime were 
filled with the Holy Spirit, and when they are 



22 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



no more, His grace abides with their spirits 
and with their bodies in their tombs, and also 
with their likenesses and holy images, not by 
nature, but by grace and divine power. 

God charged David to build Him a temple 
through his son, and to prepare a place of rest. 
Solomon, in building the temple, made the 
cherubim, as the book of Kings says. And he 
encompassed the cherubim with gold, and all 
the walls in a circle, and he had the cherubim 
carved, and palms inside and out, in a circle, 
not from the sides, be it observed. And there 
were bulls and lions and pomegranates. Is it 
not more seemly to decorate all the walls of 
the Lord s house with holy forms and images 
rather than with beasts and plants ? Where is 
the law declaring thou shalt not make any 
graven image ? But Solomon receiving the 
gift of wisdom, imaging heaven, made the 
cherubim, and the likenesses of bulls and lions, 
which the law forbade. Now if we make a 
statue of Christ, and likenesses of the saints, 
does not their being filled with the Holy Ghost 
increase the piety of our homage ? As then 
the people and the temple were purified in 
blood and in burnt offerings, so now the Blood 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 23 

of Christ giving testimony under Pontius 
Pilate, and being Himself the first fruits of 
the martyrs, the Church is built up on the 
blood of the saints. Then the signs and 
forms of lifeless animals figured forth the 
human tabernacle, the martyrs themselves 
whom they were preparing for God s abode. 

We depict Christ as our King and Lord, 
and do not deprive Him of His army. The 
saints constitute the Lord s army. Let the 
earthly king dismiss his army before he gives 
up his King and Lord. Let him put off the 
purple before he takes honour away from his 
most valiant men who have conquered their 
passions. For if the saints are heirs of God, 
and co-heirs of Christ, they will be also par 
takers of the divine glory of sovereignty. If 
the friends of God have had a part in the 
sufferings of Christ, how shall they not receive 
a share of His glory even on earth? I call 
you not servants, our Lord says, you are my 
friends. Should we then deprive them of the 
honour given to them by the Church ? What 
audacity ! What boldness of mind, to fight God 
and His commands ! You, who refuse to 
worship images, would not worship the Son of 



24 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

God, the Living Image of the invisible God, 
and His unchanging form. I worship the 
image of Christ as the Incarnate God ; that 
of Our Lady (rfc OGOTOKOV), the Mother of us 
all, as the Mother of God s Son ; that of the 
saints as the friends of God. They have with 
stood sin unto blood, and followed Christ in 
shedding their blood for Him, who shed His 
blood for them. I put on record the excel 
lencies and the sufferings of those who have 
walked in His footsteps, that I may sanctify 
myself, and be fired with the zeal of imitation. 
St Basil says, Honouring the image leads to 
the prototype. If you raise churches to the 
saints of God, raise also their trophies. The 
temple of old was not built in the name of 
any man. The death of the just was a cause 
of tears, not of feasting. A man who touched 
a corpse was considered unclean, even if the 
corpse was Moses himself. But now the 
memories of the saints are kept with rejoicings. 
The dead body of Jacob was wept over, whilst 
there is joy over the death of Stephen. There 
fore, either give up the solemn commemora 
tions of the saints, which are not according 
to the old law, or accept images which are 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 25 

also against it, as you say. But it is impossible 
not to keep with rejoicing the memories of the 
saints. The Holy Apostles and Fathers are at 
one in enjoining them. From the time that 
God the Word became flesh He is as we are 
in everything except sin, and of our nature, 
without confusion. He has deified our flesh 
for ever, and we are in very deed sanctified 
through His Godhead and the union of His 
flesh with it. And from the time that God, 
the Son of God, impassible by reason of His 
Godhead, chose to suffer voluntarily He wiped 
out our debt, also paying for us a most full 
and noble ransom. We are truly free through 
the sacred blood of the Son pleading for us 
with the Father. And we are indeed delivered 
from corruption since He descended into hell 
to the souls detained there through centuries 
and gave the captives their freedom, sight to 
the blind, and chaining the strong one.* He 
rose in the plenitude of His power, keeping the 
flesh of immortality which He had taken for 
us. And since we have been born again of 
water and the Spirit, we are truly sons and 
heirs of God. Hence St Paul calls the faithful 

* Screts rbv 



26 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



holy ; hence we do not grieve but rejoice over 
the death of the saints. We are then no 
longer under grace, being justified through 
faith, and knowing the one true God. The 
just man is not bound by the law. We are 
not held by the letter of the law, nor do we 
serve as children, but grown into the perfect 
estate of man we are fed on solid food, not 
on that which conduces to idolatry. The law 
is good as a light shining in a dark place 
until the day breaks. Your hearts have already 
been illuminated, the living water of God s 
knowledge has run over the tempestuous seas 
of heathendom, and we may all know God. 
The old creation has passed away, and all 
things are renovated. The holy Apostle Paul 
said to St Peter, the chief of the Apostles : * 
If you, being a Jew, live as a heathen and 
not a Jew, how will you persuade heathens 
to do as Jews do ? And to the Galatians : 
* I will bear witness to every circumcised man 
that it is salutary to fulfil the whole law. 

Of old they who did not know God, wor 
shipped false gods. But now, knowing God, 
or rather being known by Him, how can we 

* TTTfV KOpV<j)aia.V 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 27 



return to bare and naked rudiments ? I have 
looked upon the human form of God, and my 
soul has been saved. I gaze upon the image 
of God, as Jacob did, though in a different 
way. Jacob sounded the note of the future, 
seeing with immaterial sight, whilst the image 
of Him who is visible to flesh is burnt into my 
soul. The shadow and winding sheet and relics 
of the apostles cured sickness, and put demons 
to flight. How, then, shall not the shadow 
and the statues of the saints be glorified ? 
Either do away with the worship of all matter, 
or be not an innovator. Do not disturb the 
boundaries of centuries, put up by your fathers. 
It is not in writing only that they have be 
queathed to us the tradition of the Church, but 
also in certain unwritten examples. In the 
twenty-seventh book of his work, in thirty 
chapters addressed to Amphilochios concern 
ing the Holy Spirit, St Basil says, * In the 
cherished teaching and dogmas of the Church, 
we hold some things by written documents ; 
others we have received in mystery from the 
apostolical tradition. Both are of equal value 
for the soul s growth. No one will dispute 
this who has considered even a little the dis- 



28 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

cipline of the Church. For if we neglect un 
written customs, as not having much weight, 
we bury in oblivion the most pertinent facts 
connected with the Gospel. These are the 
great Basil s words. How do we know the 
Holy place of Calvary, or the Holy Sepulchre ? 
Does it not rest on a tradition handed clown 
from father to son? It is written that our 
Lord was crucified on Calvary, and buried in 
a tomb, which Joseph hewed out of the rock ; 
but it is unwritten tradition which identifies 
these spots, and does more things of the same 
kind. Whence come the three immersions 
at baptism, praying with face turned towards 
the east, and the tradition of the mysteries ? * 
Hence St Paul says, Therefore, brethren, stand 
fast, and hold the traditions which you have 
learned either by word, or by our epistle. As, 
then, so much has been handed down in the 
Church, and is observed down to the present 
day, why disparage images ? 

If you bring forward certain practices, they 
do not inculpate our worship of images, but 
the worship of heathens who make them 
idols. Because heathens do it foolishly, this 

* TO. 6eia nvar-ripia the Mass. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 2Q 

is no reason for objecting to our pious practice. 
If the same magicians and sorcerers use sup 
plication, so does the Church with catechumens ; 
the former invoke devils, but the Church calls 
upon God against devils. Heathens have 
raised up images to demons, whom they call 
gods. Now we have raised them to the one 
Incarnate God, to His servants and friends, 
who are proof against the diabolical hosts. 

If, again, you object that the great Epipha- 
nius thoroughly rejected images, I would say 
in the first place the work in question is ficti 
tious and unauthentic. It bears the name of 
some one who did not write it, which used to 
be commonly done. Secondly, we know that 
blessed Athanasius objected to the bodies of 
saints being put into chests, and that he 
preferred their burial in the ground, wishing 
to set at nought the strange custom of the 
Egyptians, who did not bury their dead under 
ground, but set them upon beds and couches. 
Thus, supposing that he really wrote this work, 
the great Epiphanius, wishing to correct some 
thing of the same kind, ordered that images 
should not be used. The proof that he did 
not object to images, is to be found in his 



3O ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

own church, which is adorned with images 
to this day. Thirdly, the exception is not a 
law to the Church, neither does one swallow 
make summer, as it seems to Gregory the 
theologian, and to the truth. Neither can one 
expression overturn the tradition of the whole 
Church which is spread throughout the world. 

Accept, therefore, the teaching of Scripture 
and spiritual writers. If the Scripture does call 
the idols of heathens silver and gold, and the 
works of man s hand, it does not forbid the 
adoration of inanimate things, or man s handi 
work, but the adoration of demons. 

We have seen that prophets worshipped 
angels, and men, and kings, and the impious, 
and even a staff. David says, And you 
adore His footstool. I saias, speaking in God s 
name, says, The heavens are my throne, and 
the earth my footstool. Now, it is evident to 
every one that the heavens and the earth are 
created things. Moses, too, and Aaron with 
all the people adored the work of hands. St 
Paul, the golden grasshopper * of the Church, 
says in his Epistle to the Hebrews, But 
Christ being come, a high priest of the good 

* rerrtf. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 3! 

things to come, by a greater and more perfect 
tabernacle not made by hand/ that is not of 
this creation. And, again, For Jesus is not 
entered into the Holies made by hands, the 
patterns of the true ; but into heaven itself. 
Thus the former holy things, the tabernacle, 
and everything within it, were made by hands, 
and no one denies that they were adored. 

AUTHENTIC TESTIMONY OF ANCIENT FATHERS 
IN FAVOUR OF IMAGES. 

St Denis the Areopagite. From his Letter 
to Bishop Titus. 

Instead of attaching the common conception 
to images, we should look upon what they 
symbolise, and not despise the divine mark and 
character which they portray, as sensible images 
of mysterious and heavenly visions. 

Commentary. Mark that he cautions us not 
to despise sacred images. 

The Same, On the Names of God. 

We have taken the same line. On the one 

side, through the veiled language of Scripture 

and the help of oral tradition, intellectual things 

are understood through sensible ones, and the 



32 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

things above nature by the things that are. 
Forms are given to what is intangible and 
without shape, and immaterial perfection is 
clothed and multiplied in a variety of different 
symbols. 

Commentary. If it be a good work to clothe 
with shape and form, according to our standard, 
that which is formless, shapeless, and without 
consistency, how shall we not make images to 
ourselves in the same way of things perceived 
through form and shape, so that we may bear 
them in mind, and be moved to imitate what 
they represent. 

The Same, on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. 

Now, if the substances (ova-iai) and orders 
above us, of which we have already made 
reverent mention, are without bodies, their 
hierarchy is intellectual and above sense. 

We supply by the variety of sensible symbols 
the visible order, which is according to our 
own measure. Those sensible symbols lead us 
naturally to intellectual conception, to God and 
His divine attributes. Spiritual minds form 
their own spiritual conceptions, but we are led 
to the divine vision by sensible images. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 33 



Commentary. If, then, it be rational that 
we are led to the divine vision by sensible 
images, and if Divine Providence mercifully 
clothes in form and image that which is without 
either for our benefit, what is there unseemly 
about imaging, according to our capacity, Him 
who graciously disguised Himself for us in 
shape and form ? 

A tradition has come down to us that Angaros, 
King of Edessa, was drawn vehemently to 
divine love by hearing of our Lord,* and that 
he sent envoys to ask for His likeness. If this 
were refused, they were ordered to have a like 
ness painted. Then He, who is all-knowing 
and all-powerful, is said to have taken a strip of 
cloth, and pressing it to His face, to have left 
His likeness upon the cloth, which it retains to 
this day. 

St Basils Sermon on the Martyr St Barlam, 
beginning, In the first place the death of 
the saints 

Arise, you renowned painters of brave deeds, 
who set forth by your art a faint image of the 
General. My praise of the laurel-crowned 
victor is faint compared to the colours of your 

* rrj roi) Kvpiov irpbs deiov eKTrvpaev6evTa eporra 



34 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



brush. I will give up writing on the excellencies 
of the martyr whom you have crowned. I 
rejoice at the victory won to-day by your 
strength. I contemplate the hand put out to 
the flames, more powerfully dealt with by you. 
I see the struggle more clearly depicted on your 
statue. Let demons be enraged even now, 
overcome by the martyr s excellencies which 
you reveal. Let the powerful hand be again 
outstretched to victory. May Christ our Lord, 
the supreme Judge of the warfare, appear in 
picture. To Him be glory for ever and ever. 
Amen. 

From the same, from the Thirty Chapters 
to Amphilochios, on the Holy Ghost. 
Chap, xviii. 

The image of the king is also called the 
king, and there are not two kings in con 
sequence. Neither is power divided, nor is 
glory distributed. Just as the reigning power 
over us is one, so is our homage one, not 
many, and the honour given to the image 
reaches back to the original. What the image 
is in the one case as a representation, that the 
Son is by His humanity, and as in art like- 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 35 

ness is according to form, so in the divine and 
incommensurable nature (ao-wOeros) union is 
effected in the indwelling Godhead. 

Commentary. If the image of the king is 
the king, the image of Christ is Christ, and 
the image of a saint the saint, and if power 
is not divided nor glory distributed, honouring 
the image becomes honouring the one who is 
set forth in image. Devils have feared the 
saints, and have fled from their shadow. The 
shadow is an image, and I make an image 
that I may scare demons. If you say that 
only intellectual worship befits God, take away 
all corporeal things, light, and fragrance, prayer 
itself through the physical voice, the very divine 
mysteries which are offered through matter, 
bread, and wine, the oil of chrism, the sign of 
the Cross, for all this is matter. Take away 
the Cross, and the sponge of the Crucifixion, 
and the spear which pierced the life-giving- 
side. Either give up honouring these things 
as impossible, or do not reject the veneration 
of images. Matter is endued with a divine 
power through prayer made to those who are 
depicted in image. Purple by itself is simple, 
and so is silk, and the cloak which is made of 



ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



both. But if the king put it on, the cloak 
receives honour from the honour due to the 
wearer. So is it with matter. By itself it is of 
no account, but if the one presented in image be 
full of grace, men become partakers of his grace 
according to their faith. The apostles knew 
our Lord with their bodily eyes ; others knew 
the apostles, others the martyrs. I, too, desire 
to see them in the spirit and in the flesh, and 
to possess a saving remedy as I am a com 
posite being. I see with my eyes, and revere 
that which represents what I honour, though I 
do not worship it as God. Now you, perhaps, 
are superior to me, and are lifted up above 
bodily things, and being, as it were, not of 
flesh, you make light of what is visible, but 
as I am human and clothed with a body, I 
desire to see and to be corporeally with the 
saints. Condescend to my humble wish that 
you may be secure on your heights. God 
accepts my longing for Him and for His saints. 
For He rejoices at the praises of His servant, 
according to the great St Basil in his pane 
gyric of the Forty Martyrs. Listen to the 
words which he uttered in honour of the martyr 
St Gordion. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 37 

From St BasiTs Sermon on St Gordion. 

The mere memory of just deeds is a source 
of spiritual joy to the whole world ; people are 
moved to imitate the holiness of which they 
hear. The life of holy men is as a light 
illuminating the way for those who would see 
it. And again, when we recount the story of 
holy lives we glorify in the first place the Lord 
of those servants, and we give praise to the 
servants on account of their testimony, which 
is known to us. We rejoice the world through 
good report. 

Commentary. The remembrance of the saints 
is thus, you see, a glory to God, praise of the 
saints, joy and salvation to the whole world. 
Why, then, would you destroy it ? This re 
membrance is kept by preaching and by images, 
says the same great St Basil. 

The same, on the Martyr St Gordion. 

Just as burning follows naturally on fire, and 
fragrance on sweet ointment, so must good 
arise from holy actions. For it is no small 
thing to represent past events according to life. 
Is it a dim memory of the man s wrestlings 



38 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

which has come down to us, and does not the 
painter s picture tally with our present conflict ? 
Now, as painters draw images from images, 
they frequently depart from the original as 
much as the image itself does, and as we did 
not see what they represent, there is no little 
fear that we may injure the truth. 

The same, at the end. 

The sun fills us with perpetual wonder, 
though always before us, so the memory of 
this man is ever fresh. 

Commentary. It is evident that it is fresh 
through sermon and image. 

Testimony of the same, from his Sermon on the 
Forty Martyrs. 

Can the lover of the martyrs have too much 
of their memory ? For the honour shown to 
the just, our fellow-men, is a testimony to the 
goodness of our common Lord. 

And again : 

Recognise the blessedness of the martyr 
heartily, that you may be a martyr in will ; 
thus, without persecutor, or fire, or blows, 
found worthy of the same reward. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 39 

Commentary. How, then, would you dissuade 
me from honouring the saints, and be envious 
of my salvation ? Listen to what he says a 
little further on to show that he united the 
painter s art to oratory. 

St Basil. 

See, then, that setting them before us in 
representation, we are making them helpful to 
the living, exhibiting their holiness to us all 
as if in a picture. 

Commentary. Do you understand that both 
image and sermon teach one lesson ? He 
says : Let us show them forth in a sermon 
as if in a picture. And again : Writers and 
painters point out the struggles of war; the first 
by the art of style, the second with their brush, 
and each induce many to be brave. That 
which a spoken account presents to the hear 
ing, a silent picture portrays for imitation. 

Commentary. What better proof have we 
that images are the books of the illiterate, the 
ever-speaking heralds of honouring the saints, 
teaching those who gaze upon them without 
words, and sanctifying the spectacle. I have 
not many books nor time for study, and I go 



4O ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

into a church, the common refuge of souls, my 
mind wearied with conflicting thoughts. I see 
before me a beautiful picture and the sight 
refreshes me, and induces me to glorify God. 
I marvel at the martyr s endurance, at his 
reward, and fired with burning zeal, I fall 
down to adore God through His martyr, and 
receive a grace of salvation. Have you not 
heard the same holy father in his homily on 
the beginning of the Psalms, say that the Holy 
Spirit, knowing the human race were obstinate 
and hard to lead, mixed honey with the psalm- 
singing ? What do you say to this ? Shall 
I not perpetuate the martyr s testimony both 
by word and paint brush ? Shall I not em 
brace with my eyes that which is a wonder 
to the angels and to the whole world, formid 
able to the devil, a terror to demons, as the 
same great Father says ? Again, towards the 
end of his homily on the forty martyrs, he 
exclaims, O sainted band ! O sacred fraternity ! 
O invincible army ! protectors of the human 
race, solace of the troubled, hope of your 
petitioners, most powerful intercessors, light 
of the world, bloom both intellectual and 
material of the Churches ! The earth has 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 41 

not hidden you from sight, heaven has re 
ceived you. May its gates be opened to you. 
The spectacle is worthy of angels and patri 
archs, prophets, and just. 

Commentary. How shall I not desire to 
see what the angels desire ? St Basil s brother, 
who is one with him in thought, St Gregory 
of Nyssa, shares his sentiments. 

St Gregory of Nyssa, from the Structure of 
Man! 

S^Lpplementary. Just as in human fashion 
the image makers of the powerful grasp the 
character of the form and set forth the royal 
dignity with the insignia of the purple, and 
their handiwork is called image or king, so is 
it with human nature. As it was created to 
rule over other creations, it was made as an 
animated type or image, partaking of the 
original in dignity and name. 

The same, Fifth Chapter. 

The divine beauty is not set forth either in 
form or comeliness of design or colouring, but 
is contemplated in speechless blessedness, 
according to its virtue. So do painters 



42 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

transfer human forms to canvas through 
certain colours, laying on suitable and har 
monious tints to the picture, so as to transfer 
the beauty of the original to the likeness. 

Commentary. You see that the divine 
beauty is not set forth in form or shape, and on 
this account it cannot be conveyed by an image 
(OVK eucovtferat) : it is the human form which 
is transferred to canvas by the artist s brush. 
If, therefore, the Son of God became man, 
taking the form of a servant, and appearing in 
man s nature, a perfect man, why should His 
image not be made? If, in common parlance, 
the king s image is called the king, and the 
honour shown to the image redounds to the 
original, as holy Basil says, why should the 
image not be honoured and worshipped, not as 
God, but as the image of God Incarnate ? 

The same, from his Sermon at Constantinople 
on the Godhead of the Son and of the 
Spirit, and on Abraham. 

Then the father proceeds to bind his son. 
I have often seen paintings of this touching- 
scene, and could not look at it with dry eyes, 
art setting it forth so vividly. Isaac is lying 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 43 



before the altar, his legs bound, his hands tied 
behind his back. The father approaching the 
victim, clasping his hair with the left hand, 
stoops over the face so piteously turned to 
wards him, and holds in his right hand the 
sword, ready to strike. Already the point of 
the sword is on the body when the divine voice 
is heard, forbidding the consummation. 

Leo* Bishop of Neapolis in Cyprus. From 
his book against the Jews, on the Adoration 
of the Cross, and the Statues of the Saints, 
and on Relics. 

If you, O Jew, reproach me saying that 
I adore the wood of the Cross as God, why 
do you not reproach Jacob, who worshipped 
on the point of his staff (kir\ TO aicpov rf/? pa/3Sov)? 
Now it is evident that he was not worshipping 
wood. So with us ; we are worshipping Christ 
through the Cross, not the wood of the Cross. 

Commentary. If we adore the Cross, made 
of whatever wood it may be, how shall we not 
adore the image of the Crucified ? 

* A short passage from St John Chrysostom, which 
follows, is omitted on account of Editor s note : locus 
hie mihi non occurrit apud Chrysostomum in Epistolam ad 
ffebrceos. 



44 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

From the same. 

Abraham worshipped the impious men who 
sold him the cave, and bent his knee to the 
ground, yet did not worship them as gods. 
Jacob praised Pharao, an impious idolater, yet 
not as God, and he fell down at the feet of 
Esau, yet did not worship him as God. And 
again, How does God order us to worship 
the earth and mountains ? Exalt the Lord 
your God and worship Him upon His holy 
mountain, and adore His footstool, that is, 
the earth. For heaven is My throne, He 
says, and the earth My footstool. How was 
it that Moses worshipped Jothor, an idolator, 
and Daniel, Nabuchodonosor ? How can you 
reproach me because I honour those who 
honour God and show Him service? Tell 
me, is it not fitting to worship the saints, 
rather than to throw stones at them as you 
do? Is it not right to worship them, rather 
than to attack them, and to fling your bene 
factors into the mire ? If you loved God, 
you would be ready to honour His servants 
also. And if the bones of the just are 
unclean, why were the bones of Jacob and 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 45 



Joseph brought with all honour from Egypt ? 
How was it that a dead man arose again on 
touching the bones of Eliseus ? If God works 
wonders through bones, it is evident that He 
can work them through images, and stones, 
and many other things, as in the case of 
Eliseus, who gave his staff to his servant, 
saying, With this go and raise from the dead 
the son of the Sunamitess. With his staff 
Moses chastised Pharao, parted the waters, 
struck the rock, and drew forth the stream. 
And Solomon said, Blessed is the wood by 
which justice cometh. Eliseus took iron out 
of the Jordan with a piece of wood. And 
again, the wood is the wood of life, and the 
wood of Sabec, that is, of remission. Moses 
humbled the serpent with wood and saved the 
people. The blossoming rod in the tabernacle 
confirmed the priesthood of Aaron. Perhaps, 
O Jew, you will tell me that God prescribed 
to Moses beforehand all the things of the 
testimony in the tabernacle. Now, I say to 
you that Solomon made a great variety of 
things in the temple in carvings and sculpture, 
which God had not ordered him to do. Nor 
did the tabernacle of the testimony contain 



46 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

them, nor the temple which God showed to 
Ezechiel, nor was Solomon to be blamed in 
this. He had had these sculptured images 
made for the glory of God as we do. You, 
too, had many and varied images and signs 
in the Old Testament to serve as a reminder 
of God, if you had not lost them through 
ingratitude. For instance, the rod of Moses, 
the tablets of the law, the burning bush, the 
rock giving forth water, the ark containing 
the manna, the altar set on fire from above 
(jrvpevOeov), the lamina bearing the divine 
name, the ephod, the tabernacle overshadowed 
by God. If you had prepared all these things 
by day and by night, saying, Glory be to 
Thee, O Almighty God, who hast done 
wonders in Israel through all these things ; 
if through all these ordinances of the law, 
carried out of old, you had fallen on your 
knees to adore God, you would see that 
worship is given to Him by images. 

And further on : 

He who truly loves a friend or the king, 
and especially his benefactor, if he sees that 
benefactor s son, or his staff, or his chair, or 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 47 



his crown, or his house, or his servant, he 
holds them fast in his embrace, and if he 
honours his benefactor, the king, how much 
more God. Again I repeat it, would that 
you had made images according to the law 
of Moses and the prophets, and that day by 
day you had worshipped the God of images. 
Whenever, then, you see Christians adoring 
the Cross, know that they are adoring the 
Crucified Christ, not the mere wood.* If, 
indeed, they honoured wood as wood, they 
would be bound to worship trees of whatever 
kind, as you, O Israel, worshipped them of 
old, saying to the tree and to the stone, 
Thou art my God and didst bring me forth. 
We do not speak either to the Cross or to 
the representations of the saints in this way. 
They are not our gods, but books which lie 
open and are venerated in churches in order 
to remind us of God and to lead us to 
worship Him. He who honours the martyr 

* Compare 

Ce n est ni la pierre ni le bois 

Que le catholique adore ; 
Mais c est le Roi qui mort en croix 

De Son Sang la croix honore. 
Vie de St Francois de Sales, par M. Hamond. 



48 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



honours God, to whom the martyr bore 
testimony. He who worships the apostle 
of Christ worships Him who sent the apostle. 
He who falls at the feet of Christ s mother 
most certainly shows honour to her Son. 
There is no God but one, He who is known 
and adored in the Trinity. 

Commentary. - - Who is the faithful inter 
preter of blessed Epiphanius Leontius, whose 
teaching adorned the island of Cyprus, or 
those who spoke according to their own con 
ceits ? Listen to the testimony of Severianus, 
Bishop of the Gabali. 

Severianus, Bishop of the Gabali, on the De 
dication of the Cross. 

How was it that the image of the enemy 
gave life to our progenitors ? . . . 

How was it that the image of the serpent 
worked salvation to the people in distress ? 
Would it not have been more reasonable to 
say, If any of you be bitten, let him look up to 
heaven, to God, and he shall be saved, or let 
him look towards the tabernacle of God ? 
Passing over this, he set up the image of the 
Cross alone. Why did Moses do this, who 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 49 

said to the people, * Thou shalt not make to 
thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any 
thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth 
beneath, nor of those things that are in the 
waters under the earth ? However, why do 
I speak to unworthy people ? Tell me, devout 
servant of God, will you do what is forbidden, 
and disregard what you are told to do ? He 
who said, * Thou shalt not make to thyself a 
graven thing, condemned the golden calf, and 
you make a brazen serpent, and this not 
secretly, but most openly, so that it is known to 
all. Moses answers, I laid down that com 
mandment in order to root out impiety, and to 
withdraw the people from all apostasy and 
idolatry ; now, I have the serpent cast for a 
good purpose as a figure of the truth. And 
just as I have put up a tabernacle, and every 
thing in it, and cherubim, the likeness of the 
invisible powers, over the holy of holies, as a 
sign and figure of the future, so I have set 
up a serpent for the salvation of the people, to 
serve as a preliminary to the image of the 
Cross, and the redemption contained in it. As 
a confirmation of this, listen to the Lord saying, 
1 As Moses exalted the serpent in the desert, so 

D 



5O ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

must you exalt the Son of Man, that every one 
believing in Him may not be lost, but may 
have eternal life. 

Commentary. Notice that His command 
ment not to make any graven thing was given 
to draw the people from idolatry, to which they 
were prone, and that the brazen serpent was an 
image of our Lord s suffering. 

Listen to what I am going to say as a proof 
that images are no new invention. It is an 
ancient practice well known to the best and 
foremost of the fathers. Elladios, the disciple 
of blessed Basil and his successor, says in his 
Life of Basil that the holy man was standing by 
the image of Our Lady, on which was painted 
also the likeness of Mercurius, the renowned 
martyr. He was standing by it asking for the 
removal of the impious apostate Julian, and he 
received this revelation from the statue. He 
saw the martyr vanish for a time, and then 
reappear, holding a bloody spear. 

Taken word for word from the Life of St John 
Chrysostom. 

Blessed John loved the epistles of St Paul 
exceedingly. ... He had an image of the 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 51 

apostle in a place where he was wont to retire 
now and then on account of his physical weak 
ness, for he outdid nature in watchings and 
vigils. As he read through St Paul s epistles, 
he had the image before him, and spoke to the 
apostle as if he had been present, praising him, 
and directing all his thoughts to him. . . . 

When Proclus had finished speaking, gazing 
intently at the image of the apostle, and re 
cognising the likeness to the man he had seen, 
saluting John, he said, pointing to the image : 
Forgive me, father ; the man I saw talking to 
you is very like this statue. In fact, I should 
say he is the same. 

In the life of St Eupraxia we are told that her 
Superior showed her the likeness of our Lord. 

We read in the life of St Mary of Egypt 
that she prayed before the statue of Our Lady 
and besought her intercession, and so obtained 
leave to enter the Church.* 

In all the past array of Christian priests and 
kings, wise and pious, conspicuous by teaching 
and example, in so many councils of holy and 
inspired fathers, how is it that no one has 

* A testimony quoted from Sophronius is here sup 
pressed. 



52 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

pointed out these things ? We are not advo 
cating a new faith. The law shall come out of 
Sion, the Holy Ghost said prophetically, and 
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. We do 
not advocate one thing at one time, and another 
at another, nor that the faith should become a 
laughing-stock to those outside. We will not 
allow the king s commands to overturn the 
tradition handed down from the fathers. It is 
not for pious kings to overturn ecclesiastical 
boundaries. These are not patristic ways. 
Things done by force are impositions, and do 
not carry persuasion. A proof of this was given 
in the 2nd Council of Ephesus, when a decree, 
which has never been recognised as valid, was 
enforced by the emperor s hand, and blessed 
Flavian was put to death. Councils do not 
belong to kings, as the Lord says : ( Wherever 
one or two are gathered together in My name, 
there I am in the midst of them. Christ did 
not give to kings the power to bind and to 
loose, but to the apostles, and to their suc 
cessors and pastors and teachers. * If an angel 
were to teach you a different gospel to what 
you have received, St Paul says but we will 
be silent about what follows, in the hope of 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 53 

their conversion. And if we find the warning 
disregarded, which may God avert, we will 
then add the rest. Let us hope it will not be 
needed. 

If any one should enter a house and should 
see on the walls a history in painting of Moses 
and Aaron, perchance he might ask about the 
people who are walking across the sea as if 
it were dry land. Who are they ? he asks. 
What would you say ? Are they not the sons 
of Israel ? Who is dividing the sea with his 
rod ? Would you not say Moses ? So if a 
man makes an image of Christ crucified, and 
you are asked who he is, you reply, It is 
Christ our Lord, who became incarnate for us. 
Yes, O Lord, we adore all that belongs to 
Thee, and we take to our hearts Thy Godhead, 
Thy power and goodness, Thy mercy towards 
us, Thy condescension and Thy Incarnation. 
And as men fear touching red-hot iron, not 
because of the iron but because of the heat, 
so do we worship Thy flesh, not for the nature 
of flesh, but through the Godhead united to 
that flesh according to substance. We worship 
Thy sufferings. Who has ever known death 
worshipped, or suffering venerated ? Yet we 



54 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

truly worship the physical death of our God 
and His saving sufferings. We adore Thy 
image and all that is Thine ; Thy servants, 
Thy friends, and most of all Thy Mother, the 
Mother of God. 

We beseech, therefore, the people of God, 
the faithful flock, to hold fast to the ecclesi 
astical traditions. The gradual taking away 
of what has been handed down to us would 
be undermining the foundation stones, and 
would in no short time overthrow the whole 
structure. May we prove steadfast, unflinch 
ing, immovable, founded on the solid Rock 
which is Christ, to whom be praise, glory, and 
worship, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, 
now and for ever. Amen. 



PART II. 

I CRAVE your indulgence, my readers (Secnroral 
MOW), and ask you to receive the true statement 
of one who is an unprofitable servant, the least 
of all, in the Church of God. I have not been 
moved to speak by motives of vainglory, God 
is my witness, but by zeal for the truth. In 
this alone is my hope of salvation, and with it 
I trust and pray to go out to meet Christ our 
Lord, asking that it may be an expiation for 
my sins. The man who received five talents 
from his lord, brought other five which he had 
gained, and the man with two, other two. 
The man who received one, and buried it, 
gave it back without interest, and being pro 
nounced a wicked servant, was banished into 
external darkness. Lest I should suffer in the 
same way, I obey God s commands, and with 
the talent of eloquence, which is His gift, I put 
before the wise among you a treasure table, so 



56 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

that when the Lord comes He may find me 
rich in souls, a faithful servant, whom He may 
take into that ineffable joy of His, which is my 
desire. Give me listening ears and willing 1 
hearts. Receive my treatise, and ponder well 
the force of the arguments. This is the second 
part of my work on images. Certain children 
of the Church have urged me to do it because 
the first part was not sufficiently clear to all. 
Be indulgent with me on this account, for my 
obedience. 

The wicked serpent of old, Beloved, I mean 
the devil is wont to wage war in many ways 
against man, who is made after God s image, 
and to work his destruction through opposition. 
In the very beginning he inspired man with the 
hope and desire of becoming a god, and through 
that desire he dragged man down to share the 
death of the brute creation. He has enticed 
man also by shameful and brutal pleasures. 
What a contrast between becoming a god and 
feeling brutal lust. And again, he led man 
into infidelity, as the royal (OeoTrarwp) David 
says : The fool said in his heart there is no 
God. At one time he has brought man to 
worship too many gods, at another not even 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 57 

the true God, sometimes demons, and again, 
the heavens and the earth, the sun and moon 
and stars, and the rest of creation, wild beasts 
and reptiles. It is as bad to refuse due honour 
where honour is due, as to give it where it is 
not due. Again, he has taught some to call 
the uncreated god evil, and has deceived others 
by making them recognise God, who is good 
by nature, as the author of evil. Some he has 
deceived by the misconception of one nature 
and one substance of the Godhead ; some he 
has induced to honour three natures and three 
substances ; some one substance in our Lord 
Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy 
Trinity ; some two natures and two substances. 
But the truth, taking a middle course, 
sweeps away these misconceptions and teaches 
us to acknowledge one God, one nature in 
three persons (I xoo-Taoreo-f), the Father, the 
Son, and the Holy Ghost. Evil is not a 
being,* but an accident, a certain conception, 
word, or deed against the law of God, taking 

* See St Augustine, de Civitate Dei : Nemo igitur 
qucerat efficientem causam malse voluntatis ; non enim 
est efficiens, sed deficiens, quia nee ilia efiectio sed de- 
fectio (xii. c. vii). 



58 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



its origin in this conception, speech, or doing, 
and ending with it. The truth proclaims 
also that in Christ, the second person of the 
Holy Trinity, there are two natures and one 
person. Now, the devil, the enemy of the 
truth and of man s salvation, in suggesting 
that images of corruptible man, and of birds 
and beasts and reptiles, should be made and 
worshipped as gods, has often led astray not 
only heathens but the children of Israel. In 
these days he is eager to trouble the peace 
of Christ s Church through false and lying 
tongues, using divine words in favour of what 
is evil, and striving to disguise his wicked 
intent, and drawing the unstable away from 
true and patristic custom. Some have risen 
up and said that it was wrong to represent 
and set forth publicly for adoration the saving 
wounds of Christ, and the combats of the 
saints against the devil. Who with a know 
ledge of divine things and a spiritual sense 
does not perceive in this a deception of the 
devil ? He is unwilling that his shame 
should be known and that the glory of God 
and of His saints should be published. 

If we made an image of the invisible God, 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 59 



we should in truth do wrong. For it is 
impossible to make a statue of one who is 
without body, invisible, boundless, and form 
less. Again, if we made statues of men, and 
held them to be gods, worshipping them as 
such, we should be most impious. But we 
do neither. For in making the image of God, 
who became incarnate and visible on earth, 
a man amongst men through His unspeakable 
goodness, taking upon Him shape and form 
and flesh, we are not misled. We long to see 
what He was like. As the divine apostle 
says, We see now in a glass, darkly. The 
image, too, is a dark glass, according to the 
denseness of our bodies. The mind, in much 
travail, cannot rid itself of bodily things. 
Shame upon you, wicked devil, for grudging 
us the sight of our Lord s likeness and our 
sanctification through it. You would not have 
us gaze at His saving sufferings nor wonder 
at His condescension, neither contemplate His 
miracles nor praise His almighty power. You 
grudge the saints the honour God gives to 
them. You would not have us see their glory 
put on record, nor allow us to become imitators 
of their fortitude and faith. We will not 



6O ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

obey your suggestions, wicked and man-hating 
devil. Listen to me, people of all nations, 
men, women, and children, all of you who bear 
the Christian name : If any one preach to 
you something contrary to what the Catholic 
Church has received from the holy apostles 
and fathers and councils, and has kept down 
to the present day, do not heed him. Do not 
receive the serpent s counsel, as Eve did, to 
whom it was death. If an angel or an 
emperor teaches you anything contrary to 
what you have received, shut your ears. I 
have refrained so far from saying, as the holy 
apostle said, Let him be anathema, in the 
hope of amendment. 

But say those who do not enter into the 
mind of Scripture, God said, through Moses 
the law-giver : Thou shalt not make to 
thyself the likeness of any thing that is in 
heaven above, or in the earth beneath ; and 
through the prophet David : Let them be all 
confounded that adore graven things, and 
that glory in their idols/ and many similar 
passages. Whatever they have quoted from 
Holy Scripture and the fathers is to the same 
intent. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 6 1 

Now, what shall we say to these things ? 
What, if not that which God spoke to the 
Jews, * Search the Scriptures. 

It is good to examine the Scriptures, but 
let your mind be enlightened from the search. 
It is impossible, Beloved, that God should not 
speak truth. There is one God, one Law 
giver of the old and new dispensation, who 
spoke of old in many ways to the patriarchs 
through the prophets, and in these latter times 
through His only begotten Son. Apply your 
mind with discernment. It is not I who am 
speaking. The Holy Ghost declared by the 
holy apostle St Paul that God spoke of old 
in many different ways to the patriarchs 
through the prophets. Note, in many different 
ways. A skilful doctor does not invariably 
prescribe for all alike, but for each according 
to his state, taking into consideration climate 
and complaint, season and age, giving one 
remedy to a child, another to a grown man, 
according to his age ; one thing to a weak 
patient, another to a strong ; and to each 
sufferer the right thing for his state and 
malady : one thing in the summer, another in 
the winter, another in the spring or autumn, 



62 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

and in each place according to its requirements. 
So in the same way the good Physician of 
souls prescribed for those who were still 
children and inclined to the sickness of idolatry, 
holding idols to be gods, and worshipping 
them as such, neglecting the worship of God, 
and preferring the creature to His glory. 
He charged them not to do this. 

It is impossible to make an image of God, 
who is a pure spirit, invisible, boundless, having 
neither form nor circumscription. How can 
we make an image of w r hat is invisible ? No 
man hath seen God at any time ; the only- 
begotten Son who is in the bosom of the 
Father, He hath declared Him. And again, 
No one shall see My face and live, saith the 
Lord. 

That they did worship idols there is no 
doubt from what the Scripture says about the 
going out of the children of Israel, when Moses 
went up to Mount Sinai, and persevered in 
prayer to God. Whilst receiving the law, the 
ungrateful people rose against Aaron, the 
priest of God, saying : 4 Make us gods who 
may go before us. For as to Moses, we know 
not what has befallen him. Then, when they 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 63 

had looked over the trinkets of their wives, and 
brought them together, they ate and drank, 
and were inebriated with wine and madness, 
and began to make merry, saying in their 
foolishness, These are thy gods, O Israel. 
Do you see that they made gods of idols who 
were demons, and that they worshipped the 
creature instead of the Creator ? As the holy 
apostle says : They changed the glory of the 
incorruptible God into the likeness of the 
image of a corruptible man and of birds, and 
of four-footed beasts, and of creeping things, 
and served the creature rather than the 
Creator. On this account God forbade them to 
make any graven image, as Moses says in 
Deuteronomy : And the Lord spoke to you 
from the midst of the fire ; you heard the voice 
of His words, but you saw not any form at 
all. And a little further on : Keep therefore 
your souls carefully ; you saw not any simili 
tude in the day that the Lord God spoke to 
you in Horeb, from the midst of the fire, lest 
perhaps being deceived you might make you 
a graven similitude or image of male or female, 
the similitude of any beasts that are upon the 
earth, or of birds that fly under heaven. And 



64 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

again : Lest perhaps lifting up thy eyes to 
heaven, thou see the sun and the moon, and 
all the stars of heaven, and being deceived by 
error, thou adore and serve them. You see 
the one object in view is that the creature 
should not be worshipped instead of the 
Creator, and that the worship of latreia should 
be given to God alone. Thus in every case 
when he speaks of worship he means latreia. 
Again : Thou shalt not have strange gods in 
my sight ; thou shalt not make to thyself a 
graven thing nor any likeness. Again : Thou 
shalt not make to thyself gods of metal. 
You see that He forbids image-making on 
account of idolatry, and that it is impossible 
to make an image of God, who is a Spirit, 
invisible, and uncircumscribed. You have 
not seen His likeness, He says ; and St Paul, 
standing in the midst of the Areopagus, says: 
Being therefore the offspring of God, we must 
not suppose the divinity to be like unto gold, 
or silver, or stone, the graving of art, a device 
of man. 

Listen again that it is so. Thou shalt not 
make to thyself any brazen thing nor any 
likeness. These things, he says, they made 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 65 

by God s commandment a hanging of violet, 
purple, scarlet, and fine twisted linen in the 
entrance of the tabernacle, and the cherubim 
in woven work. And they made also the 
propitiatory, that is, the oracle of the purest 
gold, and the two cherubim. What will you 
say to this, O Moses? You say, thou shalt 
not make to thyself any graven thing nor any 
likeness, and you yourself fashion cherubim of 
woven work, and two cherubim of pure gold. 
Listen to the answer of God s servant Moses : 
You blind and foolish people, mark the force 
of what is said, and keep your souls carefully. 
I said that you had seen no likeness on the 
day when the Lord spoke to you on Mount 
Horeb, in the midst of the fire, lest you should 
sin against the law and make for yourselves a 
brazen likeness : thou shalt not make any 
image or gods of metal. I never said thou 
shalt not make the image of cherubim in 
adoration before the propitiatory. What I 
said was : Thou shalt not make to thyself 
gods of metal, and thou shalt not make any 
likeness as of God, nor shalt thou adore 
the creature instead of the Creator, nor 

any creature whatsoever as God, nor have 

E 



66 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

I served the creature rather than the Crea 
tor. 5 

Note how the object of Scripture becomes 
clear to those who really search it. You must 
know, Beloved, that in every business truth and 
falsehood are distinguished, and the object of 
the doer, whether it be good or bad. In the 
gospel we find all things good and evil. God, 
the angels, man, the heavens, the earth, water 
and fire and air, the sun and moon and stars, 
light and darkness, Satan and the devils, the 
serpent and scorpions, death and hell, virtues 
and vices. And because everything told about 
them is true, and the object in view is the glory 
of God and the saints whom He has honoured, 
our salvation, and the shame of the devil, we 
worship and embrace and love these utterances, 
and receive them with our whole heart as we 
do the whole of the old and new dispensation, 
and all the spoken testimony of the holy 
fathers. Now, we reject the evil, abominable 
writings of heathens and Manicheans, and all 
other heretics, as containing foolishness and 
lies, promoting the advantage of Satan and his 
demons, and giving them pleasure, although 
they contain the name of God. So with regard 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 67 



to images we must manifest the truth, and take 
into account the intention of those who make 
them. If it be in very deed for the glory of 
God and of His saints to promote goodness, 
to avoid evil, and save souls, we should receive 
and honour and worship them as images, and 
remembrances, likenesses, and the books of the 
illiterate. We should love and embrace them 
with hand and heart as reminders of the 
incarnate God, or His Mother, or of the saints, 
the participators in the sufferings and the glory 
of Christ, the conquerors and overthrowers of 
Satan, and diabolical fraud. If any one should 
dare to make an image of Almighty God, who 
is pure Spirit, invisible, uncircumscribed, we 
reject it as a falsehood. If any one make 
images for the honour and worship of the 
Devil and his angels, we abhor them and 
deliver them to the flames. Or if any one give 
divine honours to the statues of men, or birds, 
or reptiles, or any other created thing, we 
anathematise him. As our forefathers in the 
faith pulled down the temples of demons, and 
erected on the same spot churches dedicated 
to saints whom we honour, so they overturned 
the statues of demons, and set up instead the 



68 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

images of Christ, of His holy Mother, and the 
saints. Even in the old dispensation, Israel 
neither raised temples to human beings, nor 
held sacred the memory of man. At that time 
Adam s race was under a curse, and death was 
a penalty, therefore a mourning. A corpse 
was looked upon as unclean, and the man who 
touched it as contaminated. But since the 
Godhead has taken to Himself our nature, it 
has become glorified as a vivifying and effica 
cious remedy, and has been transformed unto 
immortality. Thus the death of the saints is a 
rejoicing, and churches are raised to them, and 
their images are set up. Be assured that any 
one wishing to pull down an image erected out 
of pure zeal for the glory and enduring memory 
of Christ, or of His holy Mother, or any of the 
saints, to put the devil and his satellites to 
shame, anyone, I say, refusing to honour and 
worship this image as sacred it is not to be 
worshipped as God is an enemy of Christ, of 
His blessed Mother, and of the saints, and is an 
advocate of the devil and his crew, showing 
grief by his conduct that the saints are honoured 
and glorified, and the devil put to shame. The 
image is a hymn of praise, a manifestation, a 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 69 

lasting token of those who have fought and con 
quered, and of demons humbled and put to flight. 
Kings have no call to make laws in the 
Church. What does the holy apostle say ? 
And God, indeed, hath set some in the church, 
first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly doctors 
and shepherds for the training of the Church. 
He does not say kings. And again : Obey 
your prelates, and be subject to them. For 
they watch as being to render an account of 
your souls. Again : Remember your prelates 
who have spoken the word of God to you, 
whose faith follow, considering the end of your 
conversation. Kings have not spoken the 
word to you, but apostles and prophets, 
pastors and doctors. When God was speaking 
to David about building a house for Him, He 
said : Thou shalt not build me a house, for 
thou art a man of blood. * Render, therefore, 
to all men their dues, St Paul exclaimed ; 
1 tribute to whom tribute is due, custom to 
whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to 
whom honour. The political prosperity is the 
king s business : * the ecclesiastical organisation 



iro\iTiicri euirpafi a ; 17 5 
5i5acr/caXwr. X^crr/ot/cT) ^0o5os tffTiv avrij. 



7O ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

belongs to pastors and doctors, and to take it 
out of their hands is to commit an act of 
robbery. Saul rent Samuel s cloak, and what 
was the consequence ? God took from him his 
royalty, and gave it to the meek David. 
Jezabel pursued Elias, pigs and dogs licked up 
her blood, and harlots were bathed in it. 
Herod removed John, and was consumed by 
worms. And now holy Germanus, shining by 
word and example, has been punished and 
become an exile, and many more bishops and 
fathers, whose names are unknown to us. Is 
not this a persecution ? When the Pharisees 
and the learned surrounded our Lord, ostensibly 
to listen to His teaching, and when they asked 
Him if it was lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, 
He answered them : Bring me a coin. And 
when they had brought it, He said : ( Whose 
image is this? Upon their reply, Caesar s, 
He said, Give to Caesar that which is Caesar s 
and to God that which is God s. We are 
obedient to you, O King, in things concerning 
our daily life, in tributes, taxes, and payments, 
which are your due ; but in ecclesiastical 
government we have our pastors, preachers of 
the word, and exponents of ecclesiastical law. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 71 

We do not change the boundaries marked out 
by our fathers : we keep the tradition we have 
received. If we begin to lay down the law to 
the Church, even in the smallest thing, the 
whole edifice will fall to the ground in no 
short time. 

You look down upon matter and call it con 
temptible. This is what the Manicheans did, 
but holy Scripture pronounces it to be good ; 
for it says, * And God saw all that He had 
made, and it was very good. I say matter is 
God s creation and a good thing. Now, if you 
say it is bad, you say either that it is not from 
God, or you make Him a cause of evil. Listen 
to the words of Scripture concerning matter, 
which you despise : And Moses said to all the 
assembly of the children of Israel : This is 
the word the Lord hath commanded, saying : 
Set aside with you first fruits to the Lord ; 
let every one that is willing and hath a ready 
heart, offer them to the Lord : gold, and silver, 
and brass, violet and purple, and scarlet twice 
dyed, and fine linen, goat s hair, and ram s 
skins dyed red, and violet, and coloured skins, 
selimwood, and oil to maintain lights, and to 
make ointment, and most sweet incense, onyx 



72 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

stones and precious stones for the adorning of 
the ephod and the rational : Whosoever of you is 
.wise let him come and make that which the Lord 
hath commanded : to wit, the tabernacle, etc. 

Behold, then, matter is honoured, and you 
dishonour it. What is more insignificant than 
goat s hair, or colours, and are not violet and 
purple and scarlet colours ? And the likeness 
of the cherubim are the work of man s hand, 
and the tabernacle itself from first to last was 
an image. * Look, said God to Moses, * and 
make it according to the pattern that was 
shown thee in the Mount, and it was adored by 
the people of Israel in a circle. And, as to the 
cherubim, were they not in sight of the people ? 
And did not the people look at the ark, and 
the lamps, and the table, the golden urn and 
the staff, and adore ? It is not matter which I 
adore ; it is the Lord of matter, becoming 
matter for my sake, taking up His abode in 
matter and working out my salvation through 
matter. For the Word was made Flesh, and 
dwelt amongst us. It is evident to all that 
flesh is matter, and that it is created. I 
reverence and honour matter, and worship that 
which has brought about my salvation. I 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 73 

honour it, not as God, but as a channel of 
divine strength and grace. Was not the thrice 
blessed wood of the Cross matter ? and the 
sacred and holy mountain of Calvary ? Was 
not the holy sepulchre matter, the life-giving 
stone the source of our resurrection ? Was not 
the book of the Gospels matter, and the holy table 
which gives us the bread of life ? Are not gold 
and silver matter, of which crosses, and holy 
pictures, and chalices are made ? And above 
all, is not the Lord s Body and Blood composed 
of matter ? Either reject the honour and 
worship of all these things, or conform to 
ecclesiastical tradition, sanctifying the worship 
of images in the name of God and of God s 
friends, and so obeying the grace of the Divine 
Spirit. If you give up images on account of 
the law, you should also keep the Sabbath and 
be circumcised, for these are severely inculcated 
by it. You should observe all the law, and not 
celebrate the Lord s Passover out of Jerusalem. 
But you must know that if you observe the 
law, Christ will profit you nothing. You are 
ordered to marry your brother s wife, and so 
carry on his name, and not to sing the song of 
the Lord in a strange land. Enough of this ! 



74 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

Those who have been justified by the law have 
fallen from grace. 

Let us set forth Christ, our King and Lord, 
not depriving Him of His army. The saints 
are His army. Let the earthly king strip 
himself of his army, and then of his own 
dignity. Let him put off the purple and the 
diadem before he take honour away from his 
most valiant men who have conquered their 
passions.* For if the friends of Christ are 
heirs of God and co-heirs of Christ, and are to 
be partakers of the divine glory and kingdom, 
is not even earthly glory due to them ? I call 
you not servants, our Lord says ; you are my 
friends. Shall we, then, withhold from them 
the honour which the Church gives them ? 
You are a bold and venturesome man to fight 
against God and His ordinances. If you do 
not worship images, you do not worship the 
Son of God, who is the living image of the 
invisible God, and the immutable figure of His 
substance. The temple which Solomon built 
was consecrated by the blood of animals, and 

* yvfJLVuxrcLTft) tavrbv rov olKetov <TT par ev /tares 6 ejriyeios /3ao"tXei)j, KCLI 
r6re rbv tavrov j3a<n\ta Kai Kvptov. ATrod^aOu TT]V a\ovpyi5a Kal TO 
5taSrj/ma Kal r6re rdv Kara TOV rvpavvov api<TTcv<Tdi>TWt>, Kal p 
TUV TraQ&v 0^/3a$ 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 75 

decorated by images of lions, oxen, and the 
palms and pomegranates. Now, the Church 
is consecrated by the blood of Christ and of 
His saints, and it is adorned with the image of 
Christ and of His saints. Either take away 
the worship of images altogether, or be not an 
innovator, and pass not beyond the ancient 
boundaries which thy fathers have set. I am 
not speaking of boundaries prior to the incar 
nation of Christ our Lord, but since His 
coming. God spoke to them, depreciating the 
traditions of the old law, saying, I also gave 
them statutes that were not good, on account 
of their hardness of heart. Consequently on 
the change of priesthood the law of necessity 
was also changed. 

The eye-witnesses and ministers of the word 
handed down the teaching of the Church, not 
only by writing, but also by unwritten tradition. 
Whence comes our knowledge of the sacred 
spot, Mount Calvary, of the holy sepulchre ? 
Has it not been handed down to us from father 
to son? It is written that our Lord was cruci 
fied on Calvary, and buried in the tomb which 
Joseph hewed out of the rock, but it is un 
written tradition that teaches us we are adoring 



76 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

the right places, and many other things of the 
same kind. Why do we believe in three 
baptisms, that is, in three immersions ? Why 
do we adore the Cross ? Is it not through 
tradition ? Therefore the holy apostle says : 
* Brethren, stand fast ; and hold the traditions 
which you have learned, whether by word, or 
by our epistle. Many things, therefore, being 
handed down to the Church by unwritten 
tradition and kept up to the present day, why 
do you speak slightingly of images ? The 
Manicheans followed a gospel according to 
Thomas, and you will follow that of Leo. I 
do not admit an emperor s tyrannical action 
in domineering over the Church. The emperor 
has not received the power to bind and loose. 
I know of the Emperor Valens, a Christian in 
name, who persecuted the true faith, Zeno 
and Anastasius, Heraclius and Constantine of 
Sicily, and Bardaniskus, called Philip (</>t\nnri 
KOI/). I am not to be persuaded that the 
Church is set in order by imperial edicts, but 
by patristic traditions, written and unwritten. 
As the written Gospel has been preached in 
the whole world, so has it been an unwritten 
tradition in the whole world to represent in 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 77 



image Christ, the incarnate God, and the saints, 
to adore the Cross, and to pray towards the east. 
The customs which you bring forward do 
not incriminate our worship of images, but that 
of the heathens who make idols of them. The 
pious practice of the Church is not to be re 
jected because of heathen abuse. Sorcerers 
and magicians exorcise ; the Church exorcises 
catechumens. The former invoke demons, 
the Church calls upon God against demons. 
Heathens sacrificed to demons ; Israel offered 
to God both holocausts and victims. The 
Church, too, offers an unbloody sacrifice to 
God. Heathens set up images to demons, 
and Israel made idols of them in the words, 
These are thy gods, O Israel, who brought 
thee out of Egypt. Now we have set up 
images to the true God incarnate, to His 
servants and friends, who have put the demon 
host to flight. If you say to this that blessed 
Epiphanius clearly rejected our use of images, 
you must know that the work in question is 
spurious and written by some one else in the 
name of Epiphanius, as often happens. A 
father does not fight his own children. All 
have become participators in the one Spirit. 



78 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



The Church is a witness of this in adorning 
images, until some men rose up against her 
and disturbed the peace of Christ s fold, putting 
poisoned food before the people of God. 

If I venerate and worship, as the instru 
ments of salvation, the Cross and lance, and 
reed and sponge, by means of which the Jews 
(QeoKTovoi) scorned and put to death my Lord, 
shall I not also worship images that Christians 
make with a good intention for the glory and 
remembrance of Christ ? If I worship the 
image of the Cross, made of whatever wood 
it may be, shall I not w r orship the image which 
shows me the Crucified and my salvation 
through the Cross ? Oh, inhumanity of man ! 
It is evident that I do not worship matter, for 
supposing the Cross, if it be made of wood, 
should fall to pieces, I should throw them into 
the fire, and the same with images. 

Receive the united testimony of Scripture 
and the fathers to show you that images and 
their worship are no new invention, but the 
ancient tradition of the Church. In the holy 
Gospel of St Matthew our Lord called His 
disciples blessed, and with them all those who 
followed their example and walked in their foot- 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 79 

steps in these words : Blessed are your eyes, 
because they see, and your ears, because they 
hear. For, amen I say to you, many prophets 
and just men have desired to see the things 
that you see, and have not seen them, and to 
hear the things that you hear, and have not 
heard them. We also desire to see as much 
as we may. We see now in a glass, darkly, 
and in image, and are blessed. God Himself 
first made an image, and showed forth images. 
For He made the first man after His own 
image. And Abraham, Moses, and Isaias, and 
all the prophets saw images of God, not the 
substance of God. The burning bush was an 
image of God s Mother, and as Moses was 
about to approach it, God said : Put off the 
shoes from thy feet, for the place whereon thou 
standest is holy ground. Now if the spot on 
which Moses saw an image of Our Lady was 
holy, how much more the image itself? And 
not only is it holy, but I venture to say it is 
the holy of holies (ayiwv ay/a). When the 
Pharisees asked our Lord why Moses had 
allowed a bill of divorce, He answered : * On 
account of the hardness of your hearts Moses 
allowed you to divorce your wife, but in the 



80 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

beginning it was not so. And I say to you 
that Moses, through the children of Israel s 
hardness of heart, and knowing their proclivity 
to idolatry, forbade them to make images. We 
are not in the same case. We have taken a 
firm footing on the rock of faith, being en 
riched with the light of God s friendship. 

Listen to our Lord s words : Ye foolish and 
blind, whosoever shall swear by the temple, 
sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth in 
it ; and he that sweareth by heaven sweareth 
by the throne of God, and by Him that sitteth 
thereon. And he who swears by an image 
swears by the one whom it represents. It has 
been sufficiently proved that the tabernacle, 
and the veil, the ark and the table, and every 
thing within the tabernacle, were images and 
types, and the works of man s hand, which 
were worshipped by all Israel, and also that 
the cherubim in carving were made by God s 
order. For God said to Moses, See that 
thou doest all things according to the pattern 
shown to thee on the mount. Listen, too, to 
the apostle s testimony that Israel worshipped 
images and the handiwork of man in obedi 
ence to God : If, then, he were on earth he 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 8 1 

would not be a priest ; seeing that there would 
be others to offer gifts according to the law, 
who serve unto the example and shadow of 
heavenly things, as it was answered to Moses, 
when he was to finish the tabernacle : See 
(says he) that thou make all things according 
to the pattern which was shown thee on the 
mount. But now he hath obtained a better 
ministry > by how much also he is a mediator 
of a better testament, which is established on 
better promises. For if that former had been 
faultless, there should not indeed a place 
have been sought for a second. For finding 
fault with them, he saith : * Behold the day 
shall come, saith the Lord : and I will per 
fect unto the house of Israel, and unto the 
house of Juda, a New Testament : not accord 
ing to the Testament which I made to their 
fathers, on the day when I took them by the 
hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. 
And a little further on : Now in saying a New, 
he hath made the former Old. And that 
which decayeth and groweth old, is near its 
end. For there was a tabernacle made the 
first, wherein were the candlesticks, and the 

table, and the setting forth of loaves, which 

F 



82 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

is called the Holy. And after the second veil, 
the tabernacle, which is called the Holy of 
Holies ; having a golden censer, and the ark 
of the testament covered about on every part 
with gold, in which was a golden pot that had 
manna, and the rod of Aaron that had blos 
somed, and the tables of the testament. And 
over it were the cherubims of glory over 
shadowing the propitiatory. And again : For 
Jesus is not entered into the Holies made 
with hands, the patterns of the true ; but into 
heaven itself. And again : For the law having 
a shadow of the good things to come, not the 
very image of the things. 

You see that the law and everything it or 
dained and all our own worship consist in the 
consecration of what is made by hands, leading 
us through matter to the invisible God. Now 
the law and all its ordinances were a fore 
shadowing of the image in the future, that is, 
of our worship. And our worship is an image 
of the eternal reward. As to the thing itself, 
the heavenly Jerusalem, it is invisible and 
immaterial, as the same divine apostle says : 
We have not here an abiding city, but we 
seek for the one above, the heavenly Jeru- 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 83 

salem, of which God is Lord and Architect/ 
All ordinances of the law and of our worship 
have been directed for that heavenly city. To 
God be praise for ever. Amen. 

TESTIMONY OF ANCIENT AND LEARNED 

FATHERS TO IMAGES.* 
St John Chrysostom. From His Commentary 

on the Parable of the Sower! 
If you despise the royal garment, do you 
not despise the king himself? Do you not 
see that if you despise the image of the king, 
you despise the original ? Do you not know 
that if a man shows contempt for an image 
of wood or a statue of metal, he is not judged 
as if he had vented himself on lifeless matter, 
but as showing contempt for the king ? 
Dishonour shown to an image of the king is 
dishonour shown to the king. 
The same, from his Sermon to St Meletius^ 

Bishop of Antioch, and on the zeal of 

his hearers, beginning, Casting his eyes 

everywhere on this holy flock. 

What took place was most edifying, and 

* The first quotations are only repetitions, and are 
consequently omitted. 



84 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



we ought always to bear this consolation in 
mind, and to have this saint before our eyes, 
whose name was invoked against every bad 
passion and specious argument. This was 
so much the case that streets, market-place, 
fields, every nook and corner rang with his 
name. Not only have you longed to invoke 
him, but to look upon his bodily form. As 
with his name so with his image. Many 
people have put it on their rings and goblets 
and cups and on their bedroom walls, so as 
not only to hear his history but to look upon 
his physical likeness, and to have a double 
consolation in his loss.* 

St Maximus, Philosopher and Confessor. From 
his Acts and those of Bishop Theodosius. 

And after this all rose with tears of devotion, 
and kneeling down, prayed. And every one 
kissed the holy Gospels, and the sacred Cross, 
and the image of our Lord and Saviour Jesus 
Christ, and of Our Lady, His Immaculate 
Mother (-jravayias 0eoro/cou), putting their hands 
to it in confirmation of what had been said. 

Two slight omissions, viz., St Chrysostom and St 
Ambrose. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 85 



Blessed Anastasius, Archbishop of Theopolis, 
on the Sabbath, to Simeon, Bishop of 
Bostris. 

As in the king s absence his image is 
honoured instead of himself, so in his presence 
it would be unseemly to leave the original for 
the image. This is not to say that what is 
passed over in his presence should be dis 
honoured. ... As the man who shows dis 
respect to the king s image is punished as if 
he had shown it to the king in very deed, 
although the image is composed merely of 
wood and paint moulded together, so one 
who shows disrespect to the likeness of a man 
means it for the original of the likeness. 



PART III * 

EVERY one must recognise that a man who 
attempts to dishonour an image which has 
been set up for the glory and remembrance of 
Christ, of His holy Mother, or one of his saints, 
is an enemy of Christ, of His holy Mother, and 
the saints. It is also set up to shame the 
devil and his crew, out of love and zeal for 
God. The man who refuses to give this image 
due, though not divine, honour, is an upholder 
of the devil and his demon host, showing by 
his act grief that God and the saints are 
honoured and glorified, and the devil put to 
shame. The image is a canticle and manifesta 
tion and monument to the memory of those 
who have fought bravely and won the victory 
to the shame and confusion of the vanquished. 
I have often seen lovers gazing at the loved 
* A repetition up to t (x), where the translation begins. 



88 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

one s garment, and embracing it with eyes and 
mouth as if it was himself. We must give his 
due to every man. St Paul says : Honour to 
whom honour : to the king as excelling : or to 
governors as sent by him, to each according to 
the measure of his dignity. 

Where do you find in the Old Testament or 
in the Gospel the Trinity, or consubstantiality, 
or one Godhead, or three persons,* or the 
one substance of Christ, or His two natures, 
expressed in so many words ? Still, as they 
are contained in what Scripture does say, and 
defined by the holy fathers, we receive them 
and anathematise those who do not. I prove 
to you that in the old law God commanded 
images to be made, first of all the tabernacle and 
everything in it. Then in the gospel our 
Lord Himself said to those who asked Him, 
tempting, whether it was lawful to give tribute 
to Caesar, * Bring me a coin, and they showed 
Him a penny. And He asked them whose 
likeness it was, and they said to Him, Caesar s ; 
and He said, Give to Caesar that which is 
Caesar s, and to God that which is God s. As 
the coin bears the likeness of Caesar, it is his, 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 89 



and you should give it to Caesar. So the 
image bears the likeness of Christ, and you 
should give it Him, for it is His. 

Our Lord called His disciples blessed, 
saying, Many kings and prophets have desired 
to see what you see, and have not seen it, and 
to hear what you hear and have not heard it. 
Blessed are your eyes which see and your ears 
which hear. The apostles saw Christ with 
their bodily eyes, and His sufferings and 
wonders, and they listened to His words. We, 
too, desire to see, and to hear, and to be 
blessed. They saw Him face to face, as He 
was present in the body. Now, since he is 
not present in the body to us, we hear His 
words from books and are sanctified in spirit by 
the hearing, and are blessed, and we adore, 
honouring the books which tell us of His 
words. So, through the representation of 
images, we look upon His bodily form, and 
upon His miracles and His sufferings, and are 
sanctified and satiated, gladdened and blessed. 
Reverently we worship His bodily form, and 
contemplating it, we form some notion of 
His divine glory. For, as we are composed of 



9O ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

soul and body, and our soul does not stand 
alone, but is, as it were, shrouded by a veil, it 
is impossible for us to arrive at intellectual 
conceptions without corporeal things. Just as 
we listen with our bodily ears to physical words 
and understand spiritual things, so, through 
corporeal vision, we come to the spiritual. On 
this account Christ took a body and a soul, as 
man has both one and the other. And 
baptism likewise is double, of water and the 
spirit. So is communion and prayer and 
psalmody ; everything has a double signifi 
cation, a corporeal and a spiritual. Thus 
again, with lights and incense. The devil has 
tolerated all these things, raising a storm 
against images alone. His great jealousy of 
them may be learnt by what St Sophronius, 
Patriarch of Jerusalem, recounts in his Spiritual 
Garden. Abbot Theodore ^Eliotes told of a 
holy hermit on the Mount of Olives, who was 
much troubled by the demon of fornication. 
One day when he was sorely tempted, the old 
man began to complain bitterly. When will 
you let me alone ? he said to the devil : 
4 begone from me ! you and I have grown old 
together. The devil appeared to him, saying, 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 9! 



Swear to me that you will keep what I am 
about to tell you to yourself, and I will not 
trouble you any longer. And the old man 
swore it. Then the devil said to him, Do not 
worship this image, and I will not harass you. 
The image in question represented Our Lady, 
the holy Mother of God, bearing in her arms 
our Lord Jesus Christ. You see what those 
who forbid the worship of images hate in 
reality, and whose instruments they are. The 
demon of fornication strove to prevent the 
worship of Our Lady s image rather than to 
tempt the old man to impurity. He knew that 
the former evil was greater than fornication. 

As we are treating of images and their 
worship, let us draw out the meaning more 
accurately and say in the first place what an 
image is ; (2) Why the image was made ; (3) 
How many kinds of images there are ; (4) 
What may be expressed by an image, and 
what may not ; (5) Who first made images. 
Again, as to worship : (i) What is worship; 

(2) How many kinds of worship there are ; 

(3) What are the things worshipped in 
Scripture ; (4) That all worship is for God, 
who is worshipful by nature ; (5) That hon- 



92 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



our shown to the image is given to the 
original. 

ist Point. What is an Image ? 

An image is a likeness and representation 
of some one, containing in itself the person 
who is imaged. The image is not wont to 
be an exact reproduction of the original. The 
image is one thing, the person represented 
another ; a difference is generally perceptible, 
because the subject of each is the same. For 
instance, the image of a man may give his 
bodily form, but not his mental powers. It 
has no life, nor does it speak or feel or move. 
A son being the natural image of his father is 
somewhat different from him, for he is a son, 
not a father. 

2nd Point. For what purpose the Image 
is made. 

Every image is a revelation and representa 
tion of something hidden. For instance, man 
has not a clear knowledge of what is invisible, 
the spirit being veiled to the body, nor of 
future things, nor of things apart and distant, 
because he is circumscribed by place and time. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 93 

The image was devised for greater knowledge, 
and for the manifestation and popularising of 
secret things, as a pure benefit and help to 
salvation, so that by showing things and 
making them known, we may arrive at the 
hidden ones, desire and emulate what is good, 
shun and hate what is evil. 



Point. How many kinds of Images 
there are. 

Images are of various kinds. First there 
is the natural image. In everything the 
natural conception must be the first, then we 
come to institution according to imitation. 
The Son is the first natural and unchangeable 
image of the invisible God, the Father, showing 
the Father in Himself. For no man has seen 
God. Again, Not that any one has seen the 
Father. The apostle says that the Son is 
the image of the Father, Who is the image 
of the invisible God, and to the Hebrews, 
Who being the brightness of His glory, and 
the figure of His substance. In the Gospel 
of St John we find that He does show the 
Father in Himself. When Philip said to Him, 
Show us the Father and it is enough for us, 



94 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

our Lord replied, Have I been so long with 
you and have you not known Me, Philip ? He 
who sees Me, sees the Father. For the Son 
is the natural image of the Father, unchange 
able, in everything like to the Father, except 
that He is begotten, and that He is not the 
Father. The Father begets, being unbegotten. 
The Son is begotten, and is not the Father, 
and the Holy Spirit is the image of the Son. 
For no one can say the Lord Jesus, except in 
the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit 
we know Christ, the Son of God and God, 
and in the Son we look upon the Father. 
For in things that are conceived by nature,* 
language is the interpreter, and spirit is the 
interpreter of language. The Holy Spirit is 
the perfect and unchangeable image of the 
Son, differing only in His procession. The 
Son is begotten, but does not proceed. And 
the son of any father is his natural image. 
Thus, the natural is the first kind of image. 

The second kind of image is that fore 
knowledge which is in God s mind concerning 
future events, His eternal and unchanging 
counsel. God is immutable and His counsel 

* 0i (rct yap 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 95 

without beginning, and as it has been de 
termined from all eternity, it is carried out at 
the time preordained by Him. Images and 
figures of what He is to do in the future, the 
distinct determination of each, are called pre 
determinations by holy Dionysius. In His 
counsels the things predetermined by Him 
were characterised and imaged and immutably 
fixed before they took place. 

The third sort of image is that by imitation 
(Kara jULi/uLrjanv) which God made, that is, man. 
For how can what is created be of the same 
nature as what is uncreated, except by imita 
tion ? As mind, the Father, the Word, the 
Son, and the Holy Spirit are one God, so 
mind and word and spirit are one man, 
according to God s will and sovereign rule. 

For God says : Let us make man according 
to our own image and likeness, and He adds, 
and let him have dominion over the fishes 
of the sea and the birds of the air, and the 
whole earth, and rule over it. 

The fourth kind of image are the figures 
and types set forth by Scripture of invisible 
and immaterial things in bodily form, for a 
clearer apprehension of God and the angels, 



96 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

through our incapacity of perceiving immaterial 
things unless clothed in analogical material 
form, as Dionysius the Areopagite says, a man 
skilled in divine things. Anyone would say 
that our incapacity for reaching the con 
templation of intellectual things, and our need 
of familiar and cognate mediums, make it 
necessary that immaterial things should be 
clothed in form and shape. If, then, holy 
Scripture adapts itself to us in seeking to 
elevate us above sense, does it not make 
images of what it clothes in our own medium, 
and bring within our reach that which we 
desire but are unable to see ? The spiritual * 
writer, Gregory, says that the mind striving to 
banish corporeal images reduces itself to in 
capability. But from the creation of the 
world the invisible things of God are made 
clear by the visible creation. We see images 
in created things, which remind us faintly of 
divine tokens. For instance, sun and light 
and brightness, the running waters of a per 
ennial fountain, our own mind and language and 
spirit, the sweet fragrance of a flowering rose- 
tree, are images of the Holy and Eternal Trinity. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 97 

The fifth kind of image is that which is 
typical of the future, as the bush and the fleece, 
the rod and the urn, foreshadowing the Vir 
ginal Mother of God, and the serpent healing 
through the Cross those bitten by the serpent 
of old. Thus, again, the sea, and water and 
the cloud foreshadow the grace of baptism. 

The sixth kind of image is for a remem 
brance of past events, of a miracle or a good 
deed, for the honour and glory and abiding 
memory of the most virtuous, or for the shame 
and terror of the wicked, for the benefit of 
succeeding generations who contemplate it, so 
that we may shun evil and do good. This 
image is of two kinds, either through the written 
word in books, for the word represents the 
thing, as when God ordered the law to be 
written on tablets, and the lives of God-fearing 
men to be recorded, or through a visible 
object, as when He commanded the urn and 
rod to be placed in the ark for a lasting 
memory, and the names of the tribes to be 
engraved on the stones of the humeral. And 
also He commanded the twelve stones to be 
taken from the Jordan as a sacred token. 
Consider the prodigy, the greatest which befel 



98 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

the faithful people, the taking of the ark, and 
the parting of the waters. So now we set up 
the images of valiant men for an example and 
a remembrance to ourselves. Therefore, either 
reject all images, and be in opposition to Him 
who ordered these things, or receive each and 
all with becoming greeting and manner. 

Fourth Chapter. What an Image is, what it 
is not ; and how each Image is to be set 
forth. 

Bodies as having form and shape and colour, 
may properly be represented in image. Now 
if nothing physical or material may be attri 
buted to an angel, a spirit, and a devil, yet 
they may be depicted and circumscribed after 
their own nature. Being intellectual beings, 
they are believed to be present and to energise 
in places known to us intellectually. They 
are represented materially as Moses made an 
image of the cherubim who were looked upon 
by those worthy of the honour, the material 
image offering them an immaterial and intel 
lectual sight. Only the divine nature is uncir- 
cumscribed and incapable of being represented 
in form or shape, and incomprehensible. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 99 



If Holy Scripture clothes God in figures 
which are apparently material, and can even 
be seen, they are still immaterial. They were 
seen by the prophets and those to whom they 
were revealed, not with bodily but with intel 
lectual eyes. They were not seen by all. In 
a word it may be said that we can make 
images of all the forms which we see. We 
apprehend these as if they were seen. If at 
times we understand types from reasoning, 
and also from what we see, and arrive at 
their comprehension in this way, so with every 
sense, from what we have smelt, or tasted, or 
touched, we arrive at apprehension by bringing 
our reason to bear upon our experience. 

We know that it is impossible to look upon 
God, or a spirit, or a demon, as they are. 
They are seen in a certain form, divine pro 
vidence clothing in type and figure what is 
without substance or material being, for our in 
struction, and more intimate knowledge, lest we 
should be in too great ignorance of God, and 
of the spirit world. For God is a pure Spirit 
by His nature. The angel, and a soul, and a 
demon, compared to God, who alone is incom 
parable, are bodies ; but compared to material 

COLL CHRIST! 



TOO ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



bodies, they are bodiless. God therefore, not 
wishing that we should be in ignorance of 
spirits, clothed them in type and figure, and 
in images akin to our nature, material forms 
visible to the mind in mental vision. These we 
put into form and shape, for how were the cheru 
bim represented and described in image? But 
Scripture offers forms and images even of God. 

Who first made an Image. 

In the beginning God begot His only be 
gotten Son, His word, the living image of 
Himself, the natural and unchangeable image 
of His eternity. And He made man after 
His own image and likeness. And Adam saw 
God, and heard the sound of His feet as He 
walked at even, and he hid in paradise. And 
Jacob saw and struggled with God. It is 
evident that God appeared to him in the form 
of a man. And Moses saw Him, and Isaias 
saw as it were the back of a man, and as a 
man seated on a throne. And Daniel saw the 
likeness of a man, and as the Son of Man 
coming to the ancient of days. No one saw 
the nature of God, but the type and image of 
what was to be. For the Son and Word of 



TREATISE ON IMAGES IOI 

the invisible God, was to become man in truth, 
that He might be united to our nature, and 
be seen upon earth. Now all who looked upon 
the type and image of the future, worshipped 
it, as St Paul says in his epistle to the 
Hebrews : All these died according to faith, 
not having received the promises, but behold 
ing them afar off, and saluting them. Shall 
I not make an image of Him who took the 
nature of flesh for me ? Shall I not reverence 
and worship Him, through the honour and 
worship of His image? Abraham saw not 
the nature of God, for no man ever saw God, 
but the image of God, and falling down he 
adored. Josue saw the image of an angel, not 
as he is, for an angel is not visible to bodily eyes, 
and falling down he adored, and so did Daniel. 
Yet an angel is a creature, and servant, and 
minister of God, not God. And he wor 
shipped the angel not as God, but as God s 
ministering spirit. And shall not I make 
images of Christ s friends ? And shall I not 
worship them as the images of God s friends, 
not as gods ? Neither Josue nor Daniel wor 
shipped the angels they saw as gods. Neither 
do I worship the image as God, but through 



IO2 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

the image of the saints too, show my worship 
to God, because I honour His friends, and do 
them reverence. God did not unite Himself 
to the angelic nature, but to the human. He 
did not become an angel : He became a man 
in nature, and in truth. It is indeed Abraham s 
seed which He embraces, not the angel s. 

The Son of God in person did not take the 
nature of the angels : He took the nature of 
man. The angels did not participate in the 
divine nature, but in working and in grace. 
Now, men do participate, and become par 
takers of the divine nature when they receive 
the holy Body of Christ and drink His Blood. 
For He is united in person to the Godhead,* 
and two natures in the Body of Christ shared 
by us are united indissolubly in person, and we 
partake of the two natures, of the body bodily, 
and of the Godhead in spirit, or, rather, of each 
in both. We are made one, not in person, 
for first we have a person and then we are 



de6rr]Ti yap Kdff VTrocrracnv TjvuTai, Kai dvo 0u(rets iv 
ffjutiv (rw/x,art rou xpiOToP, r)vo}/j.ei>ai K.a.6 vw 
s, /ecu T&V dvo <pvo~eo}v \j^f.riyo^v , rov crw/mroj, 
TT}S OeoTTjTos, Tr^eu^tari/ccDs /xaAXoi 5r) d/J.<f>oiv /car ti/jifiu ov Ka 
TauTi^6fj.fvoi v<pi(TTd/j.e6a. yap irporov, Kai Tore cvovfjicda d\\a Kara 
avvava.Kpaffiv TOV crw/j-aros Kai d t/^aros. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 1 03 

united by blending together the body and the 
blood. How are we not greater than the 
angels, if through fidelity to the command 
ments we keep this perfect union ? In itself 
our nature is far removed from the angels, 
on account of death and the heaviness of the 
body, but through God s goodness and its 
union with Him it has become higher than the 
angels. For angels stand by that nature with 
fear and trembling, as, in the person of Christ, 
it sits upon a throne of glory, and they will 
stand by in trembling at the judgment. Ac 
cording to Scripture they are not partakers of 
the divine glory. For they are all ministering 
spirits, being sent to minister because of those 
who are to be heirs of salvation, not that they 
shall reign together, nor that they shall be 
together glorified, nor that they shall sit at the 
table of the Father. The saints, on the contrary, 
are the children of God, the children of the 
kingdom, heirs of God, and co-heirs of Christ. 
Therefore, I honour the saints, and glorify the 
servants and friends and co-heirs of Christ : 
servants by nature, friends by their choice : 
friends and co-heirs by divine grace, as our 
Lord said in speaking to the Father. 



IO4 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

As we are speaking of images, let us speak 
of worship also, and in the first place determine 
what it is. 

On Adoration. What is Adoration ? 

Adoration is a token of subjection, that is, 
of submission and humiliation. There are 
many kinds of adoration. 

On the kinds of Adoration. 

The first kind is the worship of latreia, 
which we give to God, who alone is adorable 
by nature, and this worship is shown in several 
ways, and first by the worship of servants. All 
created things worship Him, as servants their 
master. All things serve Thee, the psalm says. 
Some serve willingly, others unwillingly ; some 
with full knowledge, willingly, as in the case of 
the devout, others knowing, but not willing, 
against their will, as the devil s. Others, again, 
not knowing the true God, worship in spite of 
themselves Him whom they do not know. 

The second kind is the worship of admiration 
and desire which we give to God on account of 
His essential glory. He alone is worthy of 
praise, who receives it from no one, being 
Himself the cause of all glory and all good, 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 1 05 

He is light, incomprehensible sweetness, in 
comparable, immeasurable perfection, an ocean 
of goodness, boundless wisdom, and power, 
who alone is worthy of Himself to excite 
admiration, to be worshipped, glorified, and 
desired. 

The third kind of worship is that of thanks 
giving for the goods we have received. We 
must thank God for all created things, and 
show Him perpetual worship, as from Him and 
through Him all creation takes its being and 
subsists. He gives lavishly of His gifts to all, 
and without being asked. He wishes all to be 
saved, and to partake of His goodness. He is 
long-suffering with us sinners. He allows His 
sun to shine upon the just and unjust, and His 
rain to fall upon the wicked and the good alike. 
And being the Son of God, He became one of 
us for our sakes, and made us partakers of His 
divine nature, so that we shall be like unto 
Him, as St John says in his Catholic 
epistle. 

The fourth kind is suggested by the need 
and hope of benefits. Recognising that without 
Him we can neither do nor possess anything 
good, we worship Him, asking Him to satisfy 



IO6 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

our needs and desires, that we may be preserved 
from evil and arrive at good. 

The fifth kind is the worship of contrition 
and confession. As sinners we worship God, 
and prostrate ourselves before Him, needing 
His forgiveness, as it becomes servants. This 
happens in three ways. A man may be sorry 
out of love, or lest he should lose God s benefits, 
or for fear of chastisement. The first is 
prompted by goodness and desire for God 
himself, and the condition of a son : the second 
is interested, the third is slavish. 

What we find worshipped in Scripture, and 
in how many ways we show worship to 
creatures. 

First, those places in which God, who alone 
is holy, has rested, and His resting-place in the 
saints, as in the holy Mother of God and in all 
the saints. These are they who are made like 
to God as far as possible, of their own free 
will, and by God s indwelling, and by His 
abiding grace. They are truly called gods, 
not by nature, but by participation ; just as 
red-hot iron is called fire, not by nature, but 
by participation in the fire s action. He says : 



TREATISE ON IMAGES IO7 

1 Be ye holy because I am holy. The first 
thing is the free choice of the will. Then, in 
the case of a good choice, God helps it on 
and confirms it. I will take up my abode in 
them, He says. * We are the temples of God, 
and the Spirit of God dwells in us. Again, 
He gave them power over unclean spirits, to 
cast them out, and to heal all manner of dis 
eases, and all manner of infirmities. And again, 
That which I do you shall do, and greater 
things. Again : As I live, God says, who 
soever shall glorify Me, him will I glorify. 
Again : If we suffer with Him that we may 
be also glorified with Him. And God stood 
in the synagogue of the gods ; in the midst 
of it He points out the gods. As, then, they 
are truly gods, not by nature, but as partakers 
of God s nature, so they are to be worshipped, 
not as worshipful on their own account, but as 
possessing in themselves Him who is worship 
ful by nature. Just in the same way iron when 
ignited is not by nature hot and burning to the 
touch, it is the fire which makes it so. They 
are worshipped as exalted by Gocl, as through 
Him inspiring fear to His enemies, and be 
coming benefactors to the faithful. It is love 



108 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

of God which gives them their free access to 
Him, not as gods or benefactors by nature, 
but as servants and ministers of God. We 
worship them, then, as the king is honoured 
through the honour given to a loved servant. 
He is honoured as a minister in attendance upon 
his master as a valued friend, not as king. 
The prayers of those who approach with faith 
are heard, whether through the servant s inter 
cession with the king, or whether through the 
king s acceptance of the honour and faith 
shown by the servant s petitioner, for it was 
in his name that the petition was made. Thus, 
those who approached through the apostles 
obtained their cures. Thus the shadow, and 
winding - sheets, and girdles of the apostles 
worked healings. Those who perversely and 
profanely wish them to be adored as gods are 
themselves damnable, and deserve eternal fire. 
And those who in the false pride of their 
hearts disdain to worship God s servants are 
convicted of impiety towards God. The children 
who derided and laughed to scorn Elisseus 
bear witness to this, inasmuch as they were 
devoured by bears. 

Secondly, we worship creatures by honour- 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 



ing those places or persons whom God has 
associated with the work of our salvation, 
whether before our Lord s coming or since 
the dispensation of His incarnation. For in 
stance, I venerate Mount Sinai, Nazareth, the 
stable at Bethlehem, and the cave, the sacred 
mount of Golgotha, the wood of the Cross, 
the nails and sponge and reed, the sacred 
and saving lance, the dress and tunic, the 
linen cloths, the swathing clothes, the holy 
tomb, the source of our resurrection, the 
sepulchre, the holy mountain of Sion and the 
mountain of Olives, the Pool of Bethsaida and 
the sacred garden of Gethsemane, and all 
similar spots. I cherish them and every holy 
temple of God, and everything connected with 
God s name, not on their own account, but 
because they show forth the divine power, and 
through them and in them it pleased God to 
bring about our salvation. I venerate and 
worship angels and men, and all matter partici 
pating in divine power and ministering to our 
salvation through it. I do not worship the 
Jews. They are not participators in divine 
power, nor have they contributed to my salva 
tion. They crucified my God, the King of 



HO ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



Glory, moved rather by envy and hatred against 
God their Benefactor. Lord, I have loved 
the beauty of Thy house, says David, we 
will adore in the place where His feet stood. 
And adore at His holy mountain/ The holy 
Mother of God is the living holy mountain of 
God. The apostles are the teaching moun 
tains of God. The mountains skipped like 
rams, and the hills like the lambs of the 
flock. 

The third kind of worship is directed to 
objects dedicated to God, as, for instance, the 
holy Gospels and other sacred books. They 
were written for our instruction who live in 
these latter days. Sacred vessels, again, 
chalices, thuribles, candelabra, and altars (rpaire 
fat) belong to this category. It is evident 
that respect is due to them all. Consider how 
Baltassar made the people use the sacred 
vessels, and how God took away his kingdom 
from him. 

The fourth kind of worship is that of images 
seen by the prophets. They saw God in sen 
sible vision, and images of future things, as 
Aaron s rod, the figure of Our Lady s virginity, 
the urn, and the table. And Jacob worshipped 



TREATISE ON IMAGES I I I 

on the point (eVl TO aKpov) of his rod. He was 
a type of our Lord. Images of past events 
recall their remembrance. The tabernacle was 
an image of the whole world. * See, God said 
to Moses, the type which was shown to thee 
on the mountain, and the golden cherubim, the 
work of sculpturers, and the cherubim within 
the veil of woven work. Thus we adore the 
sacred figure of the Cross, the likeness of our 
God s bodily features, the likeness of her who 
bore Him, and all belonging to Him. 

The fifth manner is in the worship of each 
other as having upon us the mark of God and 
being made after His image, humbling our 
selves mutually, and so fulfilling the law of 
charity. 

The sixth manner is the worship of those in 
power who have authority. Give to all men 
their dues, the apostle says; give honour 
where it is due. This Jacob did in worship 
ping Esau as his elder brother, and Pharao 
the ruler established by God. 

In the seventh place, the worship of servants 
towards their masters and benefactors, and 
of petitioners towards those who grant their 
favours, as in the case of Abraham when he 



112 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

bought the double cave from the sons of 
Emmor. 

It is needless to say that fear, desire, and 
honour are tokens of worship, as also submis 
sion and humiliation. No one should be wor 
shipped as God except the one true God. 
Whatever is due to all the rest is for God s 
sake. 

You see what great strength and divine zeal 
are given to those who venerate the images of 
the saints with faith and a pure conscience. 
Therefore, brethren, let us take our stand on 
the rock of the faith, and on the tradition of the 
Church, neither removing the boundaries laid 
down by our holy fathers of old, nor listening 
to those who would introduce innovation and 
destroy the economy of the holy Catholic and 
Apostolic Church of God. If any man is to 
have his foolish way, in a short time the whole 
organisation of the Church will be reduced to 
nothing. Brethren and beloved children of the 
Church do not put your mother to shame, do 
not rend her to pieces. Receive her teaching 
through me. Listen to what God says of her : 
* Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not 
a spot in thee. Let us worship and adore our 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 



God and Creator as alone worthy of worship 
by nature, and let us worship the holy Mother 
of God, not as God, but as God s Mother 
according to the flesh. Let us worship the 
saints also, as the chosen friends of God, and 
as possessing access to Him. If men worship 
kings subject to corruption, who are often bad 
and impious, and those ruling or deputed in 
their name, as the holy apostle says, Be 
subject to princes and powers, and again, 
* Give to all their due, to one honour, to 
another fear, and our Lord, Give to Caesar 
that which is Caesar s, and to God that which 
is God s/ how much more should we worship 
the King of Kings ? He alone is God by 
nature ; and we should worship His servants 
and friends who reign over their passions and 
are constituted rulers of the whole earth. 
Thou shalt make them princes over all the 
earth, says David. They receive power 
against demons and against disease, and with 
Christ they reign over an incorruptible and 
unchangeable kingdom. Their shadow alone 
has put forth disease and demons. Should we 
not deem a shadow a slighter and weaker thing 

than an image ? Yet it is a true outline of the 

H 



ST O HN DAMASCENE 



original. Brethren, the Christian is faith. * He 
who walks by faith gains many things. The 
doubter, on the contrary, is as a wave of the 
sea torn and tossed ; he profits nothing. All 
the saints pleased God by faith. Let us then 
receive the teaching of the Church in simplicity 
of heart without questioning. God made man 
sane and sound. It was man who was over 
curious. Let us not seek to learn a new faith, 
destructive of ancient tradition, St Paul says, 
If a man teach any other Gospel than 
what he has been taught, let him be anathema. 
Thus, we worship images, and it is not a 
worship of matter, but of those whom matter 
represents. The honour given to the image is 
referred to the original, as holy Basil rightly 
says. 

And may Christ fill you with the joy of His 
resurrection, most holy flock of Christ, 
Christian people, chosen race, body of the 
Church, and make you worthy to walk in the 
footsteps of the saints, of the shepherds and 
teachers of the Church, leading you to enjoy 
His glory in the brightness of the saints. May 
you gain His glory for eternity, with the 

* A5e\0ol, 6 x/HOTiaj ds, TTI CTTIS ecrrtV. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES I I 5 



Uncreated Father, to whom be praise for ever. 
Amen. 

Speaking on the distinction between images 
and idols, and defining what images are, it is 
time to give proofs in question, according to our 
promise.* 

* A few Testimonies have been suppressed as un 
suitable or irrelevant, viz. : 

1. St Basil on St Barlaam (in order) 2. 

2. St Gregory of Nyssa. On Isaac and Abraham (5) 
Repetition. 

3. Severianus on the Cross (7) Repetition. 

4. From Life of St Chrysostom (8) Repetition. 

5. Eusebius on the Woman with an Issue of Blood (22). 

6. Eusebius on Constantine (23). 

7. St Gregory Nazianzen, from his Discourse to Julian 
the Apostle (2 lines) (24). 

8. St Chrysostom, Commentary on Job (25). 

9. St Chrysostom on Constantine, four quotations (26). 

10. Theodoret of Syrus on Ezechiel (27) 

11. From the Acts of St Placid (28). 

12. Ecclesiastical History of Theodoret (35). 

13. St Athanasius of Mount Sinai (36). 

14. Arcadius, Abp. of Cyprus, on Simeon the Wonder 
worker (37). 

15. St Chrysostom, Homily (38). 

1 6. Theodoret, Ecclesiastical History : six short quota 
tions (39). 

17. St Chrysostom on St Flavian and Homily (40). 

1 8. St Basil on Forty Martyrs, Repetition (41). 



Il6 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



TESTIMONY OF ANCIENT AND LEARNED 
FATHERS CONCERNING IMAGES. 

St Denis, Bishop of Athens, from his letter to 
St John the Apostle and Evangelist. 

Sensible images do indeed show forth in 
visible things. 

The same, from his Homily on the Eccle 
siastical Hierarchy. 

The substances and orders to which we have 
already alluded with reverence, are spirits, and 
they are set forth in spiritual and immaterial 
array. We can see it when brought down to 

19. St Gregory Nazianzen, ex Carminibus (42). 

20. St Chrysostom, Commentary on St Paul (43). 

21. From the Sixth General Council (44). 

22. St Clement, Stromata (45) 

23. St Theodore, Bishop of Pentapolis (46). 

24. St Basil to St Flavian (51). 

25. St Gregory Nazianzen on Baptism (52). 

26. St Isidore the Deacon, Chronography (57). 

27. From the Fifth General Council (62). 

28. Theodore, Ecclesiastical History (63). 

29. Abbot Maximus. Repetition (64). 

30. St Sophronius, Acts of SS. Cyrus and John (65). 

31. From the Life of St Eupraxia (69). 

32. On the Fifth General Council (70). 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 



our medium, symbolised in various forms, by 
which we are led up to the mental contempla 
tion of God and divine goodness. Spirits 
think of Him as spirits according to their 
nature, but we are led as far as may be by 
sensible images to the divine contemplation. 

Commentary. If, then, we are led by the 
medium of sensible images to divine contem 
plation, what unseemliness is there in making 
an image of Him Who was seen in the form, 
and habit, and nature of man for our sakes ? 

St Basil, from his Homily on the Forty 
Martyrs. 

The fortunes of war are wont to supply 
matter both for orators and painters. Orators 
describe them in glowing language, painters 
depict them on their canvas, and both have led 
many on to deeds of fortitude. That which 
words are to the ear, that the silent picture 
points out for imitation. 

The same, on the Thirty Chapters on the 
Holy Ghost to Amphilochios, \&th Answer. 

The image of the king is also called the king, 
and there are not two kings. Neither power 



Il8 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



is broken, nor is glory divided. As we are ruled 
by one government and authority, so our 
homage is one, not many. Thus the honour 
given to the image is referred to the original. 
That which the image represents by imitation 
on earth, that the Son is by nature in Heaven. 
Commentary. Just, then, as he who does 
not honour the Son does not honour the Father 
who sent Him, as our Lord says, so he who 
does not honour the image does not honour 
the original. Still some one says, * We cannot 
refuse to honour the image of Christ, but we 
will not have the saints. What folly ! Listen 
to what our Lord says to His disciples : He 
who receives you receives Me, so that the man 
who does not honour the saints does not 
honour Christ either. 

St John Chrysostom, from his Commentary on 
the Epistle to the Hebrews! 

How can what precedes be an image of what 
follows, as, for instance, Melchisedech of Christ ? 
Just in the same way as a sketch would be an 
outline of the picture. On this account the 
old law is called a shadow, and the new the 
truth and what is to come certainties. Thus 



TREATISE ON IMAGES I 1 9 

Melchisedech, who represents the law, is a 
foreshadowing of the picture. The new dis 
pensation is the truth ; the picture fully com 
pleted shows forth eternity. We might call 
the old dispensation a type of a type, and the 
new a type of the things themselves. 

From the Spiritual History of Theodore, Bishop 
of Cyrus. From the Life of St Simon 
Stylites? 

It is superfluous to speak of Italy. They say 
that this man became so well known in the 
great city of Rome, that small statues were 
erected to him in all the porticos of workshops, 
as a certain protection to them, and a guarantee 
of security. 

St Basil, from his Commentary on Isaias! 

When the devil saw man made after God s 
image and likeness, as he could not fight against 
God, he vented his wickedness on the image of 
God. In the same way an angry man might 
stone the King s image, because he cannot 
stone the King, striking the wood which bears 
his likeness. 

Commentary. Thus, every man who honours 
the image must necessarily honour the original. 



120 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



The same. 

Just as the man who shows contempt for the 
royal image is held to show it for the King 
himself, so is he convicted of sin who shows 
contempt for man made after an image. 

St Athanasius, from the Hundred Chapters 
addressed to Antiochus, the Prefect, accord 
ing to Question and Answer. Chap, 
xxxviii. 

Answer. We, who are of the faithful, do 
not worship images as gods, as the heathens 
did, God forbid, but we mark our loving 
desire alone to see the face of the person 
represented in image. Hence, when it is 
obliterated, we are wont to throw the image 
as so much wood into the fire. Jacob, when 
he was about to die, worshipped on the point 
of Joseph s staff, not honouring the staff but its 
owner. Just in the same way do we greet 
images as we should embrace our children and 
parents to signify our affection. Thus the Jew, 
too, worshipped the tablets of the law, and the 
two golden cherubim in carved work, not 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 121 



because he honoured gold or stone for itself, 
but the Lord who had ordered them to be 
made. 

St John Chrysostom, on the Third Psalm, on 
David, and Absalom? 

Kings put victorious trophies before their 
conquering generals ; rulers erect proud monu 
ments to their charioteers, and brave men, and 
with the epitaph as a crown, use matter for 
their triumph. Others, again, write the praises 
of conquerors in books, wishing to show that 
their own gift in praising is greater than those 
praised. And orators and painters, sculpturers 
and people, rulers, and cities, and places acclaim 
the victorious. No one ever made images of the 
deserter or the coward. 

St Cyril of Alexandria, from his Address to 
the Emperor Theodosius" 

If images represent the originals, they should 
call forth the same reverence. 

The same, from his Treasures! 

Images are ever the likenesses of their 
originals. 



122 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

The same, from his Poem, on the Revelation 
of Christ being signified through all the 
Teaching of Moses. On Abraham and 
Melchisedech. Chap. vi. 

Images should be made after their originals. 

St Gregory of Nazianzen, from His Sermon 
on the Son! it. 

An image is essentially a representation of 
its original. 

St Chrysostom,from his Third Commentary on 
the Colossians! 

The image of what is invisible, were it also 
invisible, would cease to be an image. An 
image, as far as it is an image, should be kept 
inviolably by us, owing to the likeness it 
represents. 

The same, from his Commentary on the 
Hebrews! Chap. xvii. 

As in images the image presents the form of 
a man, though not his strength, so the original 
and the likeness have much in common, for the 
likeness is the man. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 123 



Eusebius Pamphilius, from the Fifth Book 
of his Gospel Proofs, on God appeared to 
Abraham by the Oak of Mambre? 

Hence, even now the inhabitants cherish the 
place where visions appeared to Abraham, as 
divinely consecrated. The turpentine tree is 
still to be seen, and those who received 
Abraham s hospitality are painted in picture, 
one on each side, and the stranger of greatest 
dignity in the middle. He would be an image 
of our Lord and Saviour, whom even rude men 
reverence, Whose divine words they believe. 
It was He who, through Abraham, sowed the 
seeds of piety in men. In the likeness and 
habit of an ordinary man He presented himself 
to Abraham,* and gave him knowledge of His 
Father. 

John of Antioch, also called Malala, from his 
Chronography concerning the Woman 
with the Issue of Blood, who erected a 
Monument to Christ? 

From that time John the Baptist became 
known to men, and Herod, toparcha of the 



124 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

Trachonitis region beheaded him in the city 
of Sebaste, on the eighth day of the kalends 
of June, Flaccus and Ruffinus being consuls. 
King Herod, Philip s son, in grief at this event, 
left Judea. A rich woman, Berenice by name, 
who was also living at Paneada, sought him 
out wishing as she had been cured by Jesus, 
to erect a monument to Him. Not daring to 
do it without the king s consent, she presented 
a petition to King Herod, asking to be allowed 
to erect a golden monument in that city to our 
Lord. The petition ran thus : 

To the august Herod, toparcha, law-giver 
of Jews and Greeks, King of Trachonitis, a 
suppliant petition from Berenice, an inhabitant 
of Paneada. You are crowned with justice 
and mercy and all other virtues. Knowing 
this and in good hope of success, I am writing 
to you. If you read my beginning you will 
soon be instructed as to facts. From child 
hood I suffered with an issue of blood, and 
spent my time and my substance on doctors, 
and was not cured. Hearing of the wonder 
working Christ, how He raised the dead 
to life again, put forth devils, and cured the 
sick by one word, I also went to Him as to 



TREATISE ON liMAGES 125 



God. And approaching the crowd which 
surrounded Him fearing lest He should turn 
me away in anger on account of my complaint, 
and that I should feel it more, I said to myself, 
4 If I could only touch the border of His gar 
ment, I should be cured. I had no sooner 
touched it than the haemorrhage stopped, and 
I was cured on the spot. And He, as if He 
had read my heart s desire, said aloud, Who 
has touched Me ? Power has gone out of Me ! 
And I pale and trembling, thinking to throw 
off my sickness the sooner, prostrated myself 
at His feet, bathing the ground with my tears, 
and confessed my action. He in His goodness 
compassionating me, assured me of my cure, 
saying : Be of good heart, daughter, thy faith 
has healed thee. Go in peace ! Do you now, 
august ruler, grant my righteous petition. 
King Herod receiving this petition, was struck 
with wonder and in awe at the cure, replied : 
4 The cure wrought for you, O woman, deserves 
a splendid monument. Go then and put up 
any memorial you like to Him, in praise of 
the Healer. And immediately Berenice the 
sick woman of yore, set up in the midst of 
her own city of Paneada a monument in bronze, 



26 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



adorned with gold and silver. It is still stand 
ing in the city of Paneada. Not long ago it 
was taken from the place where it stood to 
the middle of the city, and placed in a house 
of prayer. One, Batho, a converted Jew, 
found it mentioned in a book which contained 
an account of all those who had reigned over 
Judea. 

From the Ecclesiastical History of Socrates, 
Book L Chap, xviii., on the Emperor Con- 
stantine. 

After this the Emperor Constantine, being 
most zealous for the Christian religion, de 
stroyed heathen observances, and prohibited 
single combats, whilst he set up his images 
in the temples. 

Stephen Bostr ernes, against the Jews. 
Chap. iv. 

We have made the images of the saints 
for a remembrance of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, 
Moses, and Elias and Zachary, and of other 
prophets and holy martyrs, who gave their 
life for Him. Every one who looks at their 
images may thus be reminded of them and 
glorify Him who glorifies them. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 127 



The same. 

As to images let us take courage that every 
work done in God s name is good and holy. 
Now as to idols and statues, beware, they are 
all bad, both the things and their makers. An 
image of a holy prophet is one thing, a statue 
or carved figure of Saturn or Venus, the sun 
or the moon, quite another. As man was made 
after God s image, he is worshipped ; but the 
serpent as the image of the devil, is unclean 
and execrable. Tell me, O Jew, if you reject 
man s handiwork, what is left on earth to be 
worshipped which is not the work of his hand ? 
Was not the ark made by hands, and the altar, 
the propitiatory and the cherubim, the golden 
urn containing the manna, the table and the 
inner tabernacle, and all that God ordered to 
be put in the holy of Holies ? Were not the 
cherubim the images of angels made by 
hands ? Do you call them idols ? What do 
you say to Moses who worshipped them and 
to Israel ? Worship is symbolical of honour, 
and we sinners worship God, and glorify Him 
by the divine worship of latreia which is due 
to Him, and we tremble before Him as our 



128 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

Creator. We worship the angels and servants 
of God for His sake, as creatures and servants 
of God. An image is a name and likeness of 
him it represents. Thus both by writing and 
by engraving we are ever mindful of our Lord s 
sufferings, and of the holy prophets in the old 
law and in the new. 

St Leontius of Naples, in Cyprus, against the 
Jews Book v. 

Enter then heartily into our apology for the 
making of sacred images, so that the mouths 
of foolish people speaking injustice may be 
closed. This tradition comes from the old 
law, not from us. Listen to God s command 
to Moses that he should make two cherubim 
wrought in metal to overshadow the pro 
pitiatory. And again, God showed the temple 
to Ezechiel, with its carved faces of lions, 
forms of palms and men from floor to ceiling. 
The command is truly awe-inspiring. God, 
who enjoins Israel not to make any graven 
thing, likeness or image of anything in heaven 
or on earth, also orders Moses to make 
carved cherubim. God shows the temple to 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 1 29 



Ezechiel, full of images and sculptured like 
nesses of lions, palms, and men. And 
Solomon, in conformity to the law, filled the 
temple with metal figures of oxen, palms, and 
men, and God did not reproach him for it. 
Now, if you wish to reproach me concerning 
images, you condemn God, who ordered these 
things to be made that they might remind us 
of Himself. 

The same, from the $rd Book. 

Again, atheists mock at us concerning the 
Holy Cross and the worship of divine images, 
calling us idolaters and worshippers of wooden 
gods. Now, if I am a worshipper of wood, 
as you say, I am a worshipper of many, and, 
if so, I should swear by many, and say, By 
the gods, just as you at the sight of one calf 
said, These are thy gods, O Israel. You 
could not maintain that Christian lips had 
used the expression, but the adulterous and 
unbelieving synagogue is wont ever to cast 
infamy upon the all-wise Church of Christ. 

The same. 

We do not adore as gods the figures and 

i 



130 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

images of the saints. For if it was the mere 
wood of the image that we adored as God, 
we should likewise adore all wood, and not, as 
often happens, when the form grows faint, 
throw the image into the fire. And again, 
as long as the wood remains in the form of a 
cross, I adore it on account of Christ who 
was crucified upon it. When it falls to pieces, 
I throw them into the fire. Just as the man 
who receives the sealed orders of the king 
and embraces the seal, looks upon the dust 
and paper and wax as honourable in their 
reference to the king s service, so we Christians, 
in worshipping the Cross, do not worship the 
wood for itself, but seeing in it the impress 
and seal and figure of Christ Himself, crucified 
through it and on it, we fall down and adore. 

The same. 

On this account I depict Christ and His 
sufferings in churches, and houses, and public 
places, and images, on clothes, and store-houses, 
and in every available place, so that ever 
before me, I may bear them in lasting memory, 
and not be unmindful, as you are, of my 
Lord God. In worshipping the book of the 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 131 

law, you are not worshipping parchment or 
colour, but God s words contained in it. So 
do I worship the image of Christ, neither wood 
nor colouring for themselves. Adoring an 
inanimate figure of Christ through the Cross, 
I seem to possess and to adore Christ. Jacob 
received Joseph s cloak of many colours from 
his brothers who had sold him, and he caressed 
it with tears as he gazed at it. He did not 
weep over the cloak, but considered it a way 
of showing his love for Joseph and of 
embracing him. Thus do we Christians 
embrace with our lips the image of Christ, 
or the apostles, or the martyrs, whilst in 
spirit we deem that we are embracing Christ 
Himself or His martyr. As I have often 
said, the end in view must always be con 
sidered in all greeting and worship. If you 
upbraid me because I worship the wood of 
the Cross, why do you not upbraid Jacob 
for worshipping on the point of Joseph s 
staff? (ejrl TO aKpov -n}? pdftSov). It is evident 
that it was not the wood he honoured by 
his worship, but Joseph, as we adore Christ 
through the Cross. Abraham worshipped im 
pious men who sold him the cave, and bent 



132 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

his knee to the ground, yet he did not worship 
them as gods. And again, Jacob magnified 
impious Pharao and idolatrous Esau seven 
times, yet not as God. How many salutations 
and worshippings I have put before you, both 
natural and scriptural, which are not to be 
condemned, and you no sooner see any one 
worshipping the image of Christ or His 
Immaculate (Ttavayias) Mother or a saint than 
you are angry and blaspheme and call me 
an idolater. Have you no shame, seeing me 
as you do day by day pulling down the 
temples of idols in the whole world and raising 
churches to martyrs ? If I worship idols, 
why do I honour martyrs, their destroyers ? 
If I glorify wood, as you say, why do I honour 
the saints who have pulled down the wooden 
statues of demons? If I glorify stones, how 
can I glorify the apostles who broke the stone 
idols ? If I honour the images of false gods, 
how can I praise and glorify and keep the 
feast of the three children at Babylon who 
would not worship the golden statue ? How 
greatly foolish people err, and how blind they 
are ! What shamelessness is yours, O Jew ! 
what impiety ! You sin indeed against the 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 133 

truth. Arise, O God, and justify Thy cause. 
Judge and justify us from people, not all 
people, but from senseless and hostile people 
who constantly provoke Thee. 

The same. 

If, as I have often said, I worshipped wood 
and stone as God, I, too, should say to each, 
Thou hast brought me forth. If I worship 
the images of the saints, or rather the saints, 
and worship and reverence the combats of the 
holy martyrs, how can you call these idols, 
senseless man ? For idols are likenesses of 
false gods and adulterers, murderers and luxu 
rious men, not of prophets or apostles. Listen 
whilst I take a telling and most true example 
of Christian and heathen images. The Chal 
deans in Babylon had all sorts of musical in 
struments for the worship of idols who were 
devils, and the children of Israel had brought 
musical instruments from Jerusalem, which they 
hung upon the willow trees, and the instru 
ments of both lutes and stringed instruments 
and flutes gave forth their music, these for the 
glory of God, the others for the service of 
devils. So must you look upon images and 



134 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

idols of heathens and Christians. Heathen 
idols were for the glory and remembrance of 
the devil ; Christian images are for the glory 
of Christ, and of His apostles and martyrs and 
saints. 

The same. 

When, then, you see a Christian worshipping 
the Cross, know that his adoration is not given 
to the wood, but to Christ Crucified. We 
might as well worship all wood, as Israel 
worshipped woods and trees, saying, * Thou 
art my God, and Thou hast brought me forth. 
It is not so with us. We keep in churches 
and in our houses a remembrance and a repre 
sentation of our Lord s sufferings and of those 
who fought for Him, doing everything for our 
Lord s sake. 

Once more. Tell me, O Jew, what law 
authorised Moses to worship Jethor, his 
brother-in-law, and an idolater ? Or Jacob to 
worship Pharao, and Abraham the sons of 
Emmor? They were just men and prophets. 
Again, Daniel worshipped the impious Nabu- 
chodonosor. For if they so acted on account 
of life in this world, why do you reproach 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 135 

me for worshipping the holy memories of the 
saints, whether in books or pictures, their 
combats and sufferings, which are a daily 
source of good to me, and will help me to 
lasting and eternal life ? 

Saint Athanasius against the Arians. 
Book Hi. 

The Son being of the same substance as the 
Father, He can justly say that He has what 
the Father has. Hence it was fitting and 
proper that after the words I and the Father 
are one, he should add, that you may know 
that I am in the Father and the Father in 
Me. He had already said the same thing. 
1 He who sees Me sees the Father. There 
is one and the same mind in these three 
sayings. To know that the Father and the 
Son are one is to know that he is in the 
Father and the Father in the Son. The God 
head of the Son is the Godhead of the Father. 
The man who receives this understands that 
he who sees the Son sees the Father. For 
the Godhead of the Father is seen in the 
Son. This will be easier to understand from 
the example of the king s image which shows 



136 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

forth his form and likeness. The king is the 
likeness of his image. The likeness of the 
king is indelibly impressed upon the image, 
so that any one looking at the image sees the 
king, and again, any one looking at the king 
recognises that the image is his likeness. Be 
ing an indelible likeness, the image might 
answer a man, who expressed the wish to see 
the king after contemplating it, by saying, 
* The king and I are one. I am in him and 
he is in me. That which you see in me you 
see in him, and the man who looks upon him 
looks at the same in me. He who worships 
the image worships the king in it. The image 
is his form and likeness. 

The same, to Antiochus the Ruler. 

What do our adversaries say to these things, 
they who maintain that we should not worship 
the effigies of the saints, which are preserved 
amongst us for a remembrance of them. 

St Ambrose of Milan, to the Emperor Gratian 
concerning the Incarnation of God the 
Word. 

God before flesh was made, and God in the 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 137 

flesh. There is a fear lest, abstracting the 
double principle of action and wisdom from 
Christ, we should glorify a mutilated Christ. 
Now, is it possible to divide Christ whilst we 
adore His Godhead and His flesh? Do we 
divide Him when we adore at once the image 
of God and the Cross ? God forbid. 

St Cyril of Jerusalem, twelfth Instruction. 

If you seek the cause of Christ s presence, 
go back to the first chapter of Scripture. God 
made the world in six days, but the world was 
made for man. The most brilliant sun glow 
ing with light was made for man. And all 
living things were created for our service, trees 
and flowers for our enjoyment. All created 
things were beautiful, yet only man was the 
image of God. The sun arose by command 
alone : man was moulded by the Divine Hand. 
Let us make man to our image and likeness. 
The wooden image of an earthly king is 
honoured, how much more the rational image 
of God ? 

St Jo/in Chrysostom, on the Machabees. 
The royal effigies are shown forth not only on 



138 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

gold and silver, and the most costly materials, 
but the royal form itself, even on copper. The 
difference of matter does not affect the dignity 
of the character impressed, nor does a viler 
material diminish the honour of what is great. 
The royal figure is always a consecration ; not 
lessened by matter, it exalts matter. 

The same, against Julian the Apostate. \st 
Book. 

What does this new Nabuchodonosor want ? 
He has not shown himself kinder to us than 
Nabuchodonosor of old, whose furnace still 
pierces us through, although we have escaped 
from its flames. Do not the shrines of saints 
in churches, inviting the worship of the faithful, 
show forth the destruction of the body ? * 

The same, on the Piscina. 
Just as when the royal effigy and image is 
sent or carried into the city, rulers and people 
go out to meet it with respect and reverence, 
not honouring the wooden receptacle, or the 
waxen representation, but the person of the 
king ; so is it with created things. 

* otfx* KO.I TO, Ava.d-fjiJio.ra TWV ayiuv <?TT tKK\-r)<rtaiS Kel/j.eva e/s Trpo<rKvvri<ni> 

T(J)V TTLffT&V, 5r)\OV(Tt. TTjV Xu^TJf TOV & u) /J.CLT OS . 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 139 

Severtanus of the Gabali, on the Cross. 

Fourth Homily. 4 Moses struck the rock 
twice. Why twice? If he was obeying God s 
commands, what need was there of striking 
a second time? If without, not two, or ten, or 
a hundred strikings would have unlocked 
nature : if it was simply God s work without 
the mystery of the Cross, one striking, or nod, 
or word would have sufficed. But it is meant 
to be an image of the Cross. Moses, the 
Scripture says, struck once and then again, in 
the sign of the Cross, not for actual necessity, 
so that inanimate nature might reverence the 
symbol. If in the king s absence his image 
supplies his place, rulers worship, and festivals 
are held, and princes go out to meet it, and 
people prostrate themselves, not looking at 
the material, but at the figure of the king 
shown forth in representation not seen in nature, 
how much more shall the image of the Eternal 
King break open the heavens and the whole 
universe, not the rock alone. 



140 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



J erome, Priest of Jerusalem, on the Holy 
Trinity. 

As the Scripture nowhere enjoins you to 
worship the Cross, what makes you adore it ? 
Tell us, Jews and heathens, and all inquiring 
people. 

Answer. On this account, O slow and 
foolish of heart, God allowed the people, who 
revered Him, to worship what was on earth, 
the handiwork of man, so that they should 
not be able to reproach Christians concerning 
the Cross and the worship of images. Now 
just as the Jew adored the ark of the covenant, 
and the two carved cherubim of gold, and the 
two tablets of Moses, although there is no 
where an order from God to worship or revere 
them, so is it with Christians. We do not 
revere the Cross as God ; we show through it 
what we truly feel about the Crucified One. 

Simeon of Mount Thaumaslus on Images. 

Possibly a contentious unbeliever will main 
tain that we worshipping images in our churches 
are convicted of praying to lifeless idols. Far 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 141 



be it from us to do this. Faith * makes Chris 
tians, and God, who cannot deceive, works 
miracles. We do not rest contented with 
mere colouring. With the material picture 
before our eyes we see the invisible God 
through the visible representation, and glorify 
Him as if present, not as a God without 
reality, but as God who is the essence of 
being. Nor are the saints whom we glorify 
fictitious. They are in being, and are living 
with God ; and their spirits being holy, they 
help, by the power of God, those who deserve 
and need their assistance. 

Athanasius, Archbishop of Antioch, to Simeon, 
Bishop of the Bostri, on the Sabbath. 

Just as in the king s absence his image is 
worshipped, so in his presence it is extrava 
gant to leave the original to pay homage to 
the image. It is disregarded, because the 
original on whose account it is honoured is 
present, but that is no reason for dishonour 
ing it. It is much the same, I think, with 
the shadow or letter of the law. The apostle 

* ret yap r&v xP iffTiav ^ v Turrit f&rl, Kal 6 di/^fi/Sr/s rj/muv debs 
raj 



142 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



calls it a figure. In so far as grace anticipated 
the reign of truth, the saints were types, con 
templating the truth as in a glass. When the 
promises were fulfilled, it was no longer de 
sirable to live according to types, nor to follow 
them. In the presence of the realisation the 
type vanishes into insignificance. Still they 
did not dishonour nor deride types ; they 
honoured them, and judged those who treated 
them with contumely impious, and deserving of 
death and severe chastisement. 

The same. $rd Homily. 

A man worships the king s image for the 
honour due to the king, the image itself being 
mere wax and paint. 

St Athanasius of Mount Sinai on the New 
Sabbath, and on St Thomas the Apostle. 

Those who saw Christ in the flesh looked 
upon Him as a prophet. We, who have not 
seen Him, have confessed Him from our child 
hood to be the great and Almighty God Him 
self, the Creator of eternity, and splendour 
of the Father. We listen with faith to His 
Gospel, as if we saw Christ Himself speaking. 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 143 

And receiving the pure treasure of His body, 
we believe that Christ Himself is acting in us. 
And if we see only the image of His divine 
form, as if looking down upon us from heaven, 
we prostrate and adore. Great is now the 
faith of Christ. 

From the Life of the Abbot Daniel, on Eulogius 
the Quarryman. 

Then he went away dejected, and threw 
himself before an image of Our Lady, and 
crying out, he said : Lord, enable me to pay 
what I promised this man. 

From the Life of St Mary of Egypt. 

As I was weeping, I lifted up my eyes and 
saw the image of Our Lady, and I said to 
her:- 

O Virgin, Mother of God (OCOTOKC <5eWofj/a), 
who didst give birth to God the Word, I know 
that it is neither fitting nor seemly that one so 
defiled and so covered with guilt as I should 
look up to thy image, O ever Virgin. It is 
fitting that I should be hated and shunned by 
thy purity. Yet as He who was born of thee 
became man on purpose to call sinners to re- 



144 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



pentance, help me, for I have no other succour. 
Let me also find an entrance. Do not refuse 
me a sight of the wood on which God the 
Word, thy Son, suffered according to the flesh, 
who shed His own precious blood for me. 
Grant, O Queen, that I may be admitted to 
worship the sacred Cross, and I will promise 
thee as surety to the God whom thou didst 
bring forth that I will keep myself ever un- 
defiled. When I see the Cross of thy Son, I 
will at once renounce the world and the things 
of the world, and forthwith follow wherever 
thou shalt lead. 

Saying this, taking faith s token as a con 
viction, encouraged by Our Lady s clemency, 
I left that place where I had made my petition, 
and returned again to join those who were 
entering the edifice. No one thrust me aside, 
and no one prevented me from going into the 
church. Then I was seized with horror and 
fear and trembling in all my limbs. Throwing 
myself on the ground, and worshipping that 
holy floor, I came out, and went to her who 
had promised to be my security. When I 
came to the place in which the agreement had 
been signed, I knelt down before the ever 



TREATISE ON IMAGES 145 



blessed Virgin, Mother of God, and addressed 
her in these words : 

O loving Queen (c/>t\aya9e Seanroiva), thou 
hast shown me thy goodness ; thou didst not 
despise the petition of my unworthiness. I 
have seen glory which sinners do not see. 
Praise be to God who receives the repentance 
of sinners through thee. 

St Methodius, Bishop of the P atari (Trarapwv), 
on the Resurrection. 

The images of earthly kings, even if they 
are not made of finest gold and silver, com 
mand at once honour from all. As men are 
not honouring matter, they do not choose the 
most precious from the less precious; they 
honour the image, whether made of putty or 
of copper. A derider of either, whether he 
shows contempt to the image of plaster or of 
gold, will be held to show contempt to his lord 
and king. We make golden images of His 
angels, principalities, or powers, for His honour 
and glory. 



SERMON I 

ON THE ASSUMPTION 



THE memory of the just takes place with 
rejoicing, said Solomon, the wisest of men ; for 
precious in God s sight is the death of His 
saints, according to the royal * David. If, then, 
the memory of all the just is a subject of 
rejoicing, who will not offer praise to justice 
in its source, and holiness in its treasure-house ? 
It is not mere praise; it is praising with the 
intention of gaining eternal glory. God s 
dwelling-place does not need our praise, that 
city of God, concerning which great things 
were spoken, as holy, f David addresses it in 
these words : Glorious things are said of thee, 
thou city of God. What sort of city shall we 
choose for the invisible and uncircumscribed 
God, who holds all things in His hand, if not 

* OfoirdTUp. f Qeios. 



148 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

that city which alone is above nature, giving 
shelter without circumscription * to the super- 
substantial Word of God ? Glorious things 
have been spoken of that city by God himself. 
For what is more exalted than being made 
the recipient of God s counsel, which is from 
all eternity ? 

Neither human tongue nor angelic mind is 
able worthily to praise her through whom it is 
given to us to look clearly upon the Lord s 
glory. What then ? Shall we be silent through 
fear of our insufficiency ? Certainly not. Shall 
we be trespassers beyond our own boundaries, 
and freely handle ineffable mysteries, putting off 
all restraint ? By no means. Mingling, rather, 
fear with desire, and weaving them into one 
crown, with reverent hand and longing soul, 
let us show forth the poor first-fruits of our 
intelligence, in gratitude to our Queen and 
Mother, the benefactress of all creation, as a 
repayment of our debt. A story is told of 
some rustics who were ploughing up the soil 
when a king chanced to pass, in the splendour 
of his royal robes and crown, and surrounded 
by countless gift bearers, standing in a circle. 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 149 



As there was no gift to offer at that moment, 
one of them was collecting water in his hands, 
as there happened to be a copious stream near 
by. Of this he prepared a gift for the king, 
who addressed him in these words : What is 
this, my boy ? And he answered boldly : I 
made the best of what I had, thinking it was 
better to show my willingness, than to offer 
nothing. You do not need our gifts, nor do 
you wish for anything from us save our good 
will. The need is on our side, and the reward 
is in the doing. I know that glory often comes 
to the grateful/ 

The king in wonder praised the boy s clever 
ness, graciously acknowledged his willingness, 
and made him many rich gifts in return. Now, 
if that proud monarch so generously rewarded 
good intentions, will not Our Lady (^ 6Vro>9 ayaOt] 
Seo-Troiva), the Mother of God, accept our good 
will, not judging us by what we accomplish ? 
Our Lady is the Mother of God, who alone is 
good and infinite in His condescension, who 
preferred the two mites to many splendid gifts. 
She will indeed receive us, who are paying off 
our debt, and make us a return out of all propor 
tion to what we offer. Since prayer is absolutely 



I5O ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

necessary for our needs, let us direct our 
attention to it. 

What shall we say, O Queen ? What words 
shall we use ? What praise shall we pour upon 
thy sacred and glorified head, thou giver of 
good gifts and of riches, the pride of the human 
race, the glory of all creation, through whom it 
is truly blessed. He whom nature did not 
contain in the beginning, was born of thee. 
The Invisible One is contemplated face to 
face. O Word of God, do Thou open my 
slow lips, and give their utterances Thy 
richest blessing ; inflame us with the grace of 
Thy Spirit, through whom fishermen became 
orators, and ignorant men spoke supernatural 
wisdom, so that our feeble voices may contribute 
to thy loved Mother s praises, even though 
greatness should be extolled by misery. She, 
the chosen one of an ancient race, by a pre 
determined counsel and the good pleasure of 
God the Father, who had begotten Thee in 
eternity immaterially, brought Thee forth in 
the latter times, Thou who art propitiation 
and salvation, justice and redemption, life of 
life, light of light, and true God of true God. 

The birth of her, whose Child was mar- 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 151 

vellous, was above nature and understanding, 
and it was salvation to the world ; her death 
was glorious, and truly a sacred feast. The 
Father predestined her, the prophets foretold 
her through the Holy Ghost. His sanctifying 
power overshadowed her, cleansed^ and made 
her holy, and, as it were, predestined her. 
Then Thou, Word of the Father, not dwelling 
in place, f didst invite the lowliness of our 
nature to be united to the immeasurable great 
ness of Thy inscrutable Godhead. Thou, who 
didst take flesh of the Blessed Virgin, vivified 
by a reasoning soul, having first abided in her 
undefiled and immaculate womb, creating 
Thyself, and causing her to exist in Thee, didst 
become perfect man,, not ceasing to be perfect 
God, equal to Thy Father, but taking upon 
Thyself our weakness through ineffable good 
ness. Through it Thou art one Christ, one 
Lord, one Son of God, and man at the same 
time, perfect God and perfect man, wholly God 
and wholly man, one substance (uTroo-Tacn?) from 
two perfect natures, the Godhead and the 
manhood. And in two perfect natures, the 
divine and the human, God is not pure God, 

* tKaQrjpf re Kai Tjyiave. f aTrepiypaTrrus /carw/C7?(ras. 



152 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



nor the man only man, but the Son of God and 
the Incarnate God are one and the same God 
and man without confusion or division, uniting 
in Himself substantially the attributes of both 
natures. Thus, He is at once uncreated and 
created, mortal and immortal, visible and 
invisible, in place and not in place. He has a 
divine will and a human will, a divine action 
and a human also, two powers of choosing 
(avregova-ia) divine and human. He shows 
forth divine wonders and human affections, 
natural, I mean, and pure. Thou hast taken 
upon Thyself, Lord, of Thy great mercy, the 
state of Adam as he was before the fall, body, 
soul, and mind, and all that they involve physi 
cally, so as to give me a perfect salvation. It 
is true indeed that what was not assumed was 
not healed.^ Having thus become the medi 
ator between God and man, Thou didst destroy 
enmity, and lead back to Thy Father those 
who had deserted Him, wanderers to their 
home, and those in darkness to the light. 
Thou didst bring pardon to the contrite, and 
didst change mortality into immortality. Thou 
didst deliver the world from the aberration of 

* #PTWS yap rb ai 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 153 

many gods, and didst make men the children of 
God, partakers of Thy divine glory. Thou didst 
raise the human race, which was condemned to 
hell, above all power and majesty, and in Thy 
person it is seated on the King s eternal throne. 
Who was the instrument of these infinite 
benefits exceeding all mind and comprehension, 
if not the Mother ever Virgin who bore Thee ? 
Realise, Beloved in the Lord, the grace of 
to-day, and its wondrous solemnity. Its mys 
teries are not terrible, nor do they inspire 
awe. Blessed are they who have eyes to see. 
Blessed are they who see with spiritual eyes. 
This night shines as the day. What countless 
angels acclaim the death of the life-giving- 
Mother ! How the eloquence of apostles 
blesses the departure of this body which was 
the receptacle of God. How the Word of God, 
who deigned in His mercy to become her Son, 
ministering with His divine hands to this 
immaculate and divine being,* 1 as His mother, 
receives her holy soul. O wondrous Law-giver, 
fulfilling the law which He had Himself laid 
down, not being bound by it, for it was He 
who enjoined children to show reverence to 

* , . . T-Q Travayiq. rai/rfl Kal 



154 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

their parents. Honour thy father and thy 
mother, He says. The truth of this is 
apparent to every one, calling to mind even 
dimly the words of holy Scripture. If according 
to it the souls of the just are in the hands of 
God, how much more is her soul in the hands 
of her Son and her God. This is indisputable. 
Let us consider who she is and whence she 
came, how she, the greatest and dearest of all 
God s gifts, was given to this world. Let us 
examine what her life was, and the mysteries in 
which she took part. Heathens in the use of 
funeral orations most carefully brought forward 
anything which could be turned to praise of the 
deceased, and at the same time encourage the 
living to virtue, drawing generally upon fable 
and fiction, not having fact to go upon. How 
then, shall we not deserve scorn if we bury in 
silence that which is most true and sacred, and 
in very deed the source of praise and salvation 
to all ? Shall we not receive the same punish 
ment as the man who hid his master s talent ? 
Let us adapt our subject to the needs of those 
who listen, as food is suited to the body. 

Joachim and Anne were the parents of 
Mary. Joachim kept as strict a watch over 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 155 

his thoughts as a shepherd over his flock, 
having them entirely under his control. For 
the Lord God led him as a sheep, and he 
wanted for none of the best things. When 
I say best, let no one think I mean what is com 
monly acceptable to the multitude, that upon 
which greedy minds are fixed, the pleasures 
of life that can neither endure nor make their 
possessors better, nor confer real strength. 
They follow the downward course of human 
life and cease all in a moment, even if they 
abounded before. Far be it from us to cherish 
these things, nor is this the portion of those 
who fear God. But the good things which 
are a matter of desire to those who possess 
true knowledge, delighting God, and fruitful 
to their possessors, namely, virtues, bearing- 
fruit in due season, that is, in eternity, will 
reward with eternal life those who have 
laboured worthily and have persevered in their 
acquisition as far as possible. The labour 
goes before, eternal happiness follows. 
Joachim ever shepherded his thoughts. In 
the place of pastures, dwelling by contempla 
tion on the words of sacred Scripture, made 
glad on the restful waters of divine grace, 



156 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



withdrawn from foolishness, he walked in the 
path of justice. And Anne, whose name 
means grace, was no less a companion in her 
life than a wife, blessed with all good gifts, 
though afflicted for a mystical reason with 
sterility. Grace in very truth remained sterile, 
not being able to produce fruit in the souls of 
men. Therefore, men declined from good and 
degenerated ; there was not one of under 
standing nor one who sought after God. 
Then His divine goodness, taking pity on the 
work of His hands, and wishing to save it, put 
an end to that mystical barrenness, that of 
holy (6e6(j>povo<!) Anne, I mean, and she gave 
birth to a child, whose equal had never been 
created and never can be. The end of 
barrenness proved clearly that the world s 
sterility would cease and that the withered 
trunk would be crowned with vigorous and 
mystical life. 

Hence the Mother of our Lord is announced. 
An angel foretells her birth. It was fitting 
that in this, too, she, who was to be the 
human Mother of the one true and living 
God, should be marked out above every one 
else. Then she was offered in God s holy 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 157 

temple, and remained there, showing to all 
a great example of zeal and holiness, with 
drawn from frivolous society. When, however, 
she reached full age and the law required 
that she should leave the temple, she was 
entrusted by the priests to Joseph, her bride 
groom, as the guardian of her virginity, a 
steadfast observer of the law from his youth. 
Mary, the holy and undefiled (Trm/d/xayxo?). 
went to Joseph, contenting herself with her 
household matters, and knowing nothing be 
yond her four walls. 

In the fulness of time, as the divine apostle 
says, the angel Gabriel was sent to this true 
child of God, and saluted her in the words, 
1 Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. 
Beautiful is the angel s salutation to her who 
is greater than an angel. He is the bearer of 
joy to the whole world. She was troubled at his 
words, not being used to speak with men, for 
she had resolved to keep her virginity un 
sullied. She pondered in herself what this 
greeting might be. Then the angel said to 
her : Fear not, Mary. Thou hast found grace 
before God. In very deed, she who was 
worthy of grace had found it. She found 



158 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



grace who had done the deeds of grace, and 
had reaped its fulness. She found grace who 
brought forth the source of grace, and was a 
rich harvest of grace. She found an abyss of 
grace who kept undefiled her double virginity, 
her virginal soul no less spotless than her body ; 
hence her perfect virginity. Thou shalt bring 
forth a Son/ he said, and shalt call His name 
Jesus (Jesus is interpreted Saviour). He 
shall save His people from their sins. What 
did she, who is true wisdom, reply ? She does 
not imitate our first mother Eve, but rather 
improves upon her incautiousness, and calling in 
nature to support her, thus answers the angel : 
How is this to be, since I know not man? 
What you say is impossible, for it goes beyond 
the natural laws laid down by the Creator. I 
will not be called a second Eve and disobey 
the will of my God. If you are not speaking 
godless things, explain the mystery by saying 
how it is to be accomplished. Then the 
messenger of truth answered her : The Holy 
Spirit shall come to thee, and the power of 
the Most High shall overshadow thee. There 
fore He who is born to thee shall be called 
the Son of God. That which is foretold is 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 159 

not subservient to the laws of nature. For 
God, the Creator of nature, can alter its laws. 
And she, listening in holy reverence to that 
sacred name, which she had ever desired, signi 
fied her obedience in words full of humility 
and joy : Behold the handmaid of the Lord. 
Be it done unto me according to thy word. 

O the depth of the riches, of the wisdom, 
and of the knowledge of God, I will exclaim 
in the apostle s words. * How incomprehen 
sible are His judgments, and how unsearchable 
His ways. O inexhaustible goodness of God ! 
O boundless goodness ! He who called what 
was not into being, and filled heaven and earth, 
whose throne is heaven, and whose footstool 
is the earth, a spacious dwelling-place, made 
the womb of His own servant, and in it the 
mystery of mysteries is accomplished (TO TTOLVTUV 

Kaivwv Kaivorepov diroTeXel jmva-Ttjpiov). Being God 

He becomes man, and is marvellously brought 
forth without detriment to the virginity of His 
Mother. And He is lifted up as a baby in 
earthly arms, who is the brightness of eternal 
glory, the form of the Father s substance, by 
the word of whose mouth all created things 
exist. O truly divine wonder ! O mystery 



l6o ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

transcending all nature and understanding ! O 
marvellous virginity ! What, O holy Mother 
and Virgin, is this great mystery accomplished 
in thee ? Blessed art thou amongst women, 
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Thou 
art blessed from generation to generation, thou 
who alone art worthy of being blessed. Behold 
all generations shall call thee blessed as thou 
hast said. The daughters of Jerusalem, I 
mean, of the Church, saw thee. Queens have 
blessed thee, that is, the spirits of the just, 
and they shall praise thee for ever. Thou art 
the royal throne which angels surround, seeing 
upon it their very King and Lord. Thou art 
a spiritual Eden, holier and diviner than Eden 
of old. That Eden was the abode of the 
mortal Adam, whilst the Lord came from 
heaven to dwell in thee. The ark foreshadowed 
thee who hast kept the seed of the new world. 
Thou didst bring forth Christ, the salvation of 
the world, who destroyed sin and its angry 
waves. The burning bush was a figure of 
thee, and the tablets of the law, and the ark 
of the testament. The golden urn and candel 
abra, the table and the flowering rod of Aaron 
were significant types of thee. From thee arose 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY l6l 

the splendour of the Godhead, the eternal 
Word of the Father, the most sweet and 
heavenly Manna, the sacred Name above every 
name, the Light which was from the begin 
ning. The heavenly Bread of Life, the Fruit 
without seed, took flesh of thee. Did not that 
flame foreshadow thee with its burning fire an 
image of the divine fire within thee? And 
Abraham s tent most clearly pointed to thee. 
By the Word of God dwelling in thee human 
nature produced the bread made of ashes, its 
first fruits, from thy most pure womb, the first 
fruits kneaded into bread and cooked by divine 
fire, becoming His divine person, and His true 
substance of a living body quickened by a 
reasoning and intelligent soul.^ I had nearly 
forgotten Jacob s ladder. Is it not evident to 
every one that it prefigured thee, and is not 
the type easily recognised? Just as Jacob saw 
the ladder bringing together heaven and earth, 
and on it angels coming down and going up, 
and the truly strong and invulnerable God 



T(f yap deig \6yq> v rrj yaffrpi ffov (ncrjvJxravTi avdpuireia 0i5(ris rbv 
aprov, rrjv eavTTJs airap-^v e/c r&v G&V ayvwv cuyudrwp 
) oTrTijj/ji.evr)v TTUJS Kai dpTOTTOiov/j.evr)v inro rov deiov 

etc. 

L 



1 62 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

wrestling mystically with himself, so art thou 
placed between us, and art become the ladder 
of God s intercourse with us, of Him who took 
upon Himself our weakness, uniting us to 
Himself, and enabling man to see God. 
Thou hast brought together what was parted. 
Hence angels descended to Him, ministering 
to Him as their God and Lord, and men, adopt 
ing the life of angels, are carried up to heaven. 
How shall I understand the prediction of 
prophets ? Shall I not refer them to thee, as 
we can prove them to be true ? What is the 
fleece of David which receives the Son of the 
Almighty God, co-eternal and co-equal with 
His Father, as rain falls upon the soil? Does 
it not signify thee in thy bright shining ? Who 
is the virgin foretold by Isaias who should 
conceive and bear a Son, God ever present 
with us, that is, who being born a man should 
remain God ? What is Daniel s mountain from 
which arose Christ, the Corner-Stone, not made 
by the hand of man ? Is it not thee, con 
ceiving without man and still remaining a 
virgin ? Let the inspired Ezechiel come forth 
and show us the closed gate, sealed by the 
Lord, and not yielding, according to his 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 163 

prophecy let him point to its fulfilment in 
thee. The Lord of all came to thee, and 
taking flesh did not open the door of thy 
virginity. The seal remains intact. The 
prophets, then, foretell thee. Angels and 
apostles minister to thee, O Mother of God, 
ever Virgin, and John the virgin apostle. 
Angels and the spirits of the just, patriarchs 
and prophets surround thee to-day in thy de 
parture to thy Son. Apostles watched over 
the countless host of the just who were 
gathered together from every corner of the 
earth by the divine commands, as a cloud 
around the divine and living Jerusalem, sing 
ing hymns of praise to thee, the author of 
our Lord s life-giving body. 

O how does the source of life pass through 
death to life ? O how can she obey the law 
of nature, who, in conceiving, surpasses the 
boundaries of nature? How is her spotless 
body made subject to death ? In order to be 
clothed with immortality she must first put off 
mortality, since the Lord of nature did not 
reject the penalty of death. She dies accord 
ing to the flesh, destroys death by death, and 
through corruption gains incorruption (<j>0opa 



164 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



rrjv a<j)0ap(riav x a P& rai )> an d niakes her death the 
source of resurrection. O how does Almighty 
God receive with His own hands the holy dis 
embodied soul of our Lord s Mother ! He 
honours her truly, whom being His servant by 
nature, He made His Mother, in His inscrutable 
abyss of mercy, when He became incarnate in 
very truth. We may well believe that the 
angelic choirs waited to receive thy departing 
soul. O what a blessed departure this going 
to God of thine. If God vouchsafes it to all 
His servants and we know that He does 
what an immense difference there is between 
His servants and His Mother. What, then, 
shall we call this mystery of thine ? Death ? 
Thy blessed soul is naturally parted from thy 
blissful and undefiled body, and the body is 
delivered to the grave, yet it does not endure in 
death, nor is it the prey of corruption. The 
body of her, whose virginity remained un 
spotted in child-birth, was preserved in its 
incorruption, and was taken to a better, diviner 
place, where death is not, but eternal life. Just 
as the glorious sun may be hidden momentarily 
by the opaque moon, it shows still though 
covered, and its rays illumine the darkness 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 165 

since light belongs to its essence. It has in 
itself a perpetual source of light, or rather 
it is the source of light as God created it. 
So art thou the perennial source of true light, 
the treasury of life itself, the richness of grace, 
the cause and medium of all our goods. And 
if for a time thou art hidden by the death of the 
body, without speaking, thou art our light, 
life-giving ambrosia, true happiness, a sea of 
grace, a fountain of healing and of perpetual 
blessing. Thou art as a fruitful tree in the 
forest, and thy fruit is sweet in the mouth of 
the faithful. Therefore I will not call thy 
sacred transformation death, but rest or going 
home, and it is more truly a going home. 
Putting off corporeal things, thou dwellest in 
a happier state. 

Angels with archangels bear thee up. Im 
pure spirits trembled at thy departure. The 
air raises a hymn of praise at thy passage, and 
the atmosphere is purified. Heaven receives 
thy soul with joy. The heavenly powers greet 
thee with sacred canticles and with joyous 
praise, saying : * Who is this most pure 
creature ascending, shining as the dawn, 
beautiful as the moon, conspicuous as the 



1 66 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

sun ? How sweet and lovely thou art, the 
lily of the field, the rose among thorns ; 
therefore the young maidens loved thee. 
We are drawn after the odour of thy ointments. 
The King introduced thee into His chamber. 
There Powers protect thee, Principalities praise 
thee, Thrones proclaim thee, Cherubim are 
hushed in joy, and Seraphim magnify the 
true Mother by nature and by grace of their 
very Lord. Thou wert not taken into heaven 
as Elias was, nor didst thou penetrate to the 
third heaven with Paul, but thou didst reach 
the royal throne itself of thy Son, seeing it 
with thy own eyes, standing by it in joy and 
unspeakable familiarity. O gladness of angels 
and of all heavenly powers, sweetness of 
patriarchs and of the just, perpetual exultation 
of prophets, rejoicing the world and sanctifying 
all things, refreshment of the weary, comfort of 
the sorrowful, remission of sins, health of the 
sick, harbour of the storm-tossed, lasting 
strength of mourners, and perpetual succour 
of all who invoke thee. 

O wonder surpassing nature and creating 
wonder ! Death, which of old was feared and 
hated, is a matter of praise and blessing. Of old 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 167 

it was the harbinger of grief, dejection, tears, 
and sadness, and now it is shown forth as the 
cause of joy and rejoicing. In the case of all 
God s servants, whose death is extolled, His 
good pleasure is surmised from their holy end, 
and therefore their death is blessed. It shows 
them to be perfect, blessed and immoveable in 
goodness, as the proverb says : Praise no man 
before his death. This, however, we do not 
apply to thee. Thy blessedness was not death, 
nor was dying thy perfection, nor, again, did 
thy departure hence help thee to security. 
Thou art the beginning, middle, and end of 
all goods transcending mind, for thy Son in His 
conception and divine dwelling in thee is made 
our sure and true security. Thus thy words 
were true : from the moment of His conception, 
not from thy death, thou didst say all genera 
tions should call thee blessed. It was thou 
who didst break the force of death, paying its 
penalty, and making it gracious. Hence, when 
thy holy and sinless body was taken to the 
tomb, the choirs of angels bore it, and were 
all around, leaving nothing undone for the 
honour of our Lord s Mother, whilst apostles 
and all the assembly of the Church burst into 



1 68 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

prophetic song, saying : We shall be filled 
with the good things of Thy house, holy is 
Thy temple, wonderful in justice. And again : 
1 The Most High has sanctified His tabernacle. 
The mountain of God is a fertile mountain, the 
mountain in which it pleased God to dwell. 
The apostolic band lifting the true ark of the 
Lord God on their shoulders, as the priests of 
old the typical ark, and placing thy body in the 
tomb, made it, as if another Jordan, the way to 
the true land of the gospel, the heavenly 
Jerusalem, the mother of all the faithful, God 
being its Lord and architect. Thy soul did 
not descend to Limbo, neither did thy flesh see 
corruption. Thy pure and spotless body was 
not left in the earth, but the abode of the 
Queen, of God s true Mother, was fixed in the 
heavenly kingdom alone. 

O how did heaven receive her who is greater 
than heaven? How did she, who had received 
God, descend into the grave ? This truly 
happened, and she was held by the tomb. It 
was not after bodily wise that she surpassed 
heaven. For how can a body measuring three 
cubits, and continually losing flesh, be compared 
with the dimensions of heaven ? It was rather 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 169 

by grace that she surpassed all height and 
depth, for that which is divine is incomparable. 
O sacred and wonderful, holy and worshipful 
body, ministered to now by angels, standing by 
in lowly reverence. Demons tremble : men 
approach with faith, honouring and worshipping 
her, greeting her with eyes and lips, and draw 
ing down upon themselves abundant blessings. 
Just as a rich scent sprinkled upon clothes or 
places, leaves its fragrance even after it has 
been withdrawn, so now that holy, undefiled, 
and divine body, filled with heavenly fra 
grance, the rich source of grace, is laid in the 
tomb that it may be translated to a higher 
and better place. Nor did she leave the grave 
empty ; her body imparted to it a divine fra 
grance, a source of healing, and of all good for 
those who approach it with faith. 

We, too, approach thee to-day, O Queen ; 
and again, I say, O Queen, O Virgin Mother 
of God, staying our souls with our trust in 
thee, as with a strong anchor. Lifting up 
mind, soul and body, and all ourselves to thee, 
rejoicing in psalms and hymns and spiritual 
canticles, we reach through thee One who is 
beyond our reach on account of His Majesty. 
If, as the divine Word made flesh taught us> 



I7O ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

honour shown to servants is honour shown to 
our common Lord, how can honour shown to 
thee, His Mother, be slighted? How is it not 
most desirable ? Art thou not honoured as the 
very breath of life ? Thus shall we best show 
our service to our Lord Himself. What do I 
say to our Lord? It is sufficient that those 
who think of Thee should recall the memory 
of Thy most precious gift as the cause of our 
lasting joy. How it fills us with gladness ! 
How the mind that dwells on this holy treasury 
of Thy grace enriches itself. 

This is our thank-offering to thee, the first 
fruits of our discourses, the best homage of 
my poor mind, whilst I am moved by desire 
of thee, and full of my own misery. But do 
thou graciously receive my desire, knowing 
that it exceeds my power. Watch over us, 
O Queen, the dwelling - place of our Lord. 
Lead and govern all our ways as thou wilt. 
Save us from our sins. Lead us into the calm 
harbour of the divine will. Make us worthy 
of future happiness through the sweet and face- 
to-face vision of the Word made flesh through 
thee. With Him, glory, praise, power, and 
majesty be to the Father and to the holy and 
life-giving Spirit, now and for ever. Amen. 



SERMON II 



ON THE ASSUMPTION 

THERE is no one in existence who is able to 
praise worthily the holy death of God s Mother, 
even if he should have a thousand tongues 
and a thousand mouths. Not if all the most 
eloquent tongues could be united would their 
praises be sufficient. She is greater than all 
praise. Since, however, God is pleased with 
the efforts of a loving zeal, and the Mother 
of God with what concerns the service of her 
Son, suffer me now to revert again to her 
praises. This is in obedience to your orders, 
most excellent pastors, so dear to God, and we 
call upon the Word made flesh of her to come 
to our assistance. He gives speech to every 
mouth which is opened for Him. He is her 
sole pleasure and adornment. We know that 
in celebrating her praises we pay off our debt, 



172 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

and that in so doing we are again debtors, so 
that the debt is ever beginning afresh. It is 
fitting that we should exalt her who is above 
all created things, governing them as Mother 
of the God who is their Creator, Lord, and 
Master. Bear with me you who hang upon 
the divine words, and receive my good will. 
Strengthen my desire, and be patient with the 
weakness of my words. It is as if a man were 
to bring a violet of royal purple out of season, 
or a fragrant rose with buds of different hues, 
or some rich fruit of autumn to a mighty 
potentate who is divinely appointed to rule 
over men. Every day he sits at a table laden 
with every conceivable dish in the perfumed 
courts of his palace. He does not look at 
the smallness of the offering, or at its novelty 
so much as he admires the good intention, and 
with reason. This he would reward with an 
abundance of gifts and favours. So we, in our 
winter of poverty,* bring garlands to our Queen, 



* OVTW Koi tyuets ev xei/uDi t r&v ewuv TO, &vOr) rrj /3a<ri.\i5i. 
/ecu 7e77/pa/c6ra \o70i Trpos TOVS ay&vas r&v eyuwfjiiuv oTrXl^ovres, KO.L 
TOV Trodov T(J} v($ \idov oia fftdripQ 7rposrpi\f/ai>Tes, r) ws fiopdprjv &wpov 
K6\L\f/avTes, rty fjivOoroKov didvoicu>, &fj,vdpov riva (nrivOijpa /ecu rpovya 
\6yov TOIS 0t\oX67ots vfuv KCU 0iXa/cpod/io<n J/^UOJT, fj.a\\oi> /cat fj,a\Xov 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 173 

and prepare a flower of oratory for the feast of 
praise. We break our mind s stony desire 
with iron, pressing, as it were, the unripe 
grapes. And may you receive with more and 
more favour the words which fall upon your 
eager and listening ears. 

What shall we offer the Mother of the Word 
if not our words ? Like rejoices in like and in 
what it loves. Thus, then, making a start and 
loosening the reins of my discourse, I may 
send it forth as a charger ready equipped for 
the race. But do Thou, O Word of God, be 
my helper and auxiliary, and speak wisdom to 
my unwisdom. By Thy word make my path 
clear, and direct my course according to Thy 
good pleasure, which is the end of all wisdom 
and discernment. 

To-day the holy Virgin of Virgins is presented 
in the heavenly temple. Virginity in her was 
so strong as to be a consuming fire. It is 
forfeited in every case by child-birth. But she 
is ever a virgin, before the event, in the birth 
itself, and afterwards. To-day the sacred and 
living ark of the living God, who conceived her 
Creator Himself, takes up her abode in the 
temple of God, not made by hands. David, her 



174 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

forefather, ^ rejoices. Angels and Archangels 
are in jubilation, Powers exult, Principalities 
and Dominations, Virtues and Thrones are in 
gladness : Cherubim and Seraphim magnify 
God. Not the least of their praise is it to refer 
praise to the Mother of glory. To-day the holy 
dove, the pure and guileless soul, sanctified by 
the Holy Spirit, putting off the ark of her body, 
the life-giving receptacle of Our Lord, found 
rest to the soles of her feet, taking her flight to 
the spiritual world, and dwelling securely in the 
sinless country above. To-day the Eden of 
the new Adam receives the true paradise, in 
which sin is remitted and the tree of life grows, 
and our nakedness is covered. For we are no 
longer naked and uncovered, and unable to 
bear the splendour of the divine likeness. 
Strengthened with the abundant grace of the 
Spirit, we shall no longer betray our nakedness 
in the words : I have put off my garment, how 
shall I put it on ? The serpent, by whose 
deceitful promise we were likened to brute 
beasts, did not enter into this paradise. He, 
the only begotten Son of God, God himself, of 
the same substance as the Father, took His 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 175 

human nature of the pure Virgin. Being con 
stituted a man, He made mortality immortal, 
and was clothed as a man. Putting aside 
corruption, He was indued with the incor 
ruptibility of the Godhead. 

To-day the spotless Virgin, untouched by 
earthly affections, and all heavenly in her 
thoughts, was not dissolved in earth, but 
truly entering heaven, dwells in the heavenly 
tabernacles. Who would be wrong to call her 
heaven, unless indeed he truly said that she is 
greater than heaven in surpassing dignity ? 
The Lord and Creator of heaven, the Architect 
of all things beneath the earth and above, of 
creation, visible and invisible, Who is not 
circumvented by place (if that which surrounds 
things is rightly termed place), created Himself, 
without human co-operation, an Infant in her. 
He made her a rich treasure-house of His all- 
pervading and alone uncircumscribed Godhead, 
subsisting entirely in her without passion, 
remaining entire in His universality and 
Himself uncircumscribed. To-day the life- 
giving treasury and abyss of charity (I know 
not how to trust my lips to speak of it) is 
hidden in immortal death. She meets it 



176 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

without fear, who conceived death s destroyer, 
if indeed we may call her holy and vivifying 
departure by the name of death. For how 
could she, who brought life to all, be under the 
dominion of death ? But she obeys the law of 
her own Son, and inherits this chastisement as 
a daughter of the first Adam, since her Son, who 
is the life, did not refuse it. As the Mother of 
the living God, she goes through death to Him. 
For if God said : * Unless the first man put out 
his hand to take and taste of the tree of life, he 
shall live for ever, how shall she, who received 
the Life Himself, without beginning or end, or 
finite vicissitudes, not live for ever. 

Of old the Lord God banished from the 
garden of Eden our first parents after their dis 
obedience, when they had dulled the eye of 
their heart through their sin, and weakened 
their mind s discernment, and had fallen into 
death-like apathy. But, now, shall not paradise 
receive her, who broke the bondage of all 
passion, sowed the seed of obedience to God 
and the Father, and was the beginning of life 
to the whole human race ? Will not heaven 
open its gates to her with rejoicing? Yes, 
indeed. Eve listened to the serpent, adopted 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 177 

his suggestion, was caught by the lure of false 
and deceptive pleasure, and was condemned to 
pain and sorrow, and to bear children in suffer 
ing. With Adam she received the sentence of 
death, and was placed in the recesses of Limbo. 
How can death claim as its prey this truly 
blessed one, who listened to God s word in 
humility, and was filled with the Spirit, con 
ceiving the Father s gift through the archangel, 
bearing without concupiscence or the co-opera 
tion of man the Person of the Divine Word, who 
fills all things, bringing Him forth without the 
pains of childbirth, being wholly united to God ? 
How could Limbo open its gates to her ? How 
could corruption touch the life-giving body ? 
These are things quite foreign to the soul and 
body of God s Mother. Death trembled before 
her. In approaching her Son, death had learnt 
experience from His sufferings, and had grown 
wiser. The gloomy descent to hell was not for 
her, but a joyous, easy, and sweet passage to 
heaven. If, as Christ, the Life and the Truth 
says : * Wherever I am, there is also my 
minister, how much more shall not His mother 
be with Him? She brought Him forth with 
out pain, and her death, also, was painless. 

M 



ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



The death of sinners is terrible, for in it, sin, 
the cause of death, is sacrificed. What shall 
we say of her if not that she is the beginning 
of perpetual life. Precious indeed is the death 
of His saints to the Lord God of powers. More 
than precious is the passing away of God s 
Mother. Now let the heavens and the angels 
rejoice : let the earth and men be full of glad 
ness. Let the air resound with song and 
canticle, and dark night put off its gloom, and 
emulate the brightness of day through the 
scintillating stars. The living city of the Lord 
God is assumed from God s temple, the visible 
Sion, and kings bring forth His most precious 
gift, their mother, to the heavenly Jerusalem, 
that is to say, the apostles constituted princes 
by Christ, over all the earth, accompany the 
ever virginal Mother of God. 

It seems to me not superfluous to bring 
forward and insist on the past types of this 
holy one, the Mother of God. These types 
succinctly announced the Divine Child whom 
we have received. I look upon His Mother 
as the saint of saints, the holiest of all, the 
fragrant urn for the manna, or rather, to speak 
more truly, the fountain taking its rise in the 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 179 

divine and far-famed city of David, in Sion 
the glorious ; in it the law is fulfilled and the 
spiritual law is portrayed. In Sion, Christ 
the Law-giver consummated the typical pasch, 
and God, the Author of the old and the new 
dispensation, gave us the true pasch. In it 
the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins 
of the world, initiated His disciples unto His 
mystical feast, and gave them Himself slain as 
a victim, and the grape pressed in the true 
vine. In Sion, Christ is seen by His apostles, 
risen from the dead, and Thomas is told, and 
through Thomas the world, that He is Lord 
and God, having in Himself two natures after 
His resurrection, and consequently two opera 
tions, independent wills, enduring for all ages. 
Sion is the crown of churches, the resting-place 
of disciples. In it the echo of the Holy Spirit, 
the gift of tongues, His fiery descent are 
transmitted to the apostles. In it St John, 
taking the Mother of God, ministered to her 
wants. Sion is the mother of churches in the 
whole world, who offered a resting-place to the 
Mother of God after her Son s resurrection 
from the dead. In it, lastly, the Blessed Virgin 
was stretched on a small bed. 



l8o ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

When I had reached this point of my dis 
course, I was obliged to give vent to my own 
feelings, and burning with loving desire, to 
shed reverent yet joyful tears, embracing, as it 
were, the bed so happy and blest and wondrous, 
which received the life-giving tabernacle and 
rejoiced in the contact of holiness. I seemed 
to take into my arms that holy and sacred 
body itself, worthy of God, and pressing my 
eyes, lips, and forehead, head, and cheeks to 
hers, I felt as if she was really there, though I 
was unable to see with my eyes what I desired. 
How, then, was she assumed to the heavenly 
courts ? In this way. What were the 
honours then conferred upon her by God who 
commands us to honour our parents ? The 
cloud which enclosed Jerusalem as with a net, 
by the divine commands, brought together 
eagles from the ends of the earth, those who 
are spread over the world, fishing for men in 
the various and numerous tongues of the 
spirit. By the net of the word they are saving 
men from the abyss of doubt and bringing 
them to the spiritual and heavenly table of 
the sacred and mystical banquet, the perfect 
marriage feast of the Divine Bridegroom, 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY l8l 



which the Father celebrates with His Son, 
who is equal to Himself and of the same 
nature. Where the spirit is, says Christ the 
Truth, * there shall the eagles be gathered 
together. If we have already spoken con 
cerning the second great and splendid coming 
of Him who spoke these words, it will not be 
out of place here by way of condiment. 

Eye-witnesses, then, and ministers of the 
word were there, duly ministering to His 
Mother, and drawing from her a rich in 
heritance, as it were, and a full measure of 
praise. For is it a matter of doubt to any one 
that she is the source of blessing and the 
fountain of all good ? Their followers and 
successors also were there, joining in their 
ministry and in their praise. A common 
labour produces common fruits. A chosen 
band from Jerusalem were there. It was fitting 
that the foremost men and prophets of the old 
law, they who had foretold God the Word s 
saving birth of her in time, should be there 
as a guard of honour. Nor did the angelic 
choirs fail. They who obeyed the king 
heartily ( K ara yi/w/^i/), and consequently were 
honoured by standing near Him, had the right 



1 82 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

to serve as a body-guard to His Mother, 
according to the flesh, the truly blessed and 
blissful one, surpassing all generations and all 
creation. All those were with her who are the 
brightness and the shining of the spirit, with 
spiritual eyes fixed upon her in reverence, and 
fear, and pure desire. 

We hear divine and inspired words, and 
spiritual canticles appropriate to the parting 
hour. On this account it was meet to praise His 
boundless goodness, His immeasurable great 
ness, His omnipotence, the generosity surpass 
ing all measure in His dealings with us, the 
overflowing riches of His mercy, the abyss of 
His tenderness ; how, putting aside His great 
ness, He descended to our littleness with the 
co-operation of the Father and the Holy Spirit. 
Again, the supersubstantial One is supersub- 
stantially created in the virginal womb. Being 
God He became man, and remains according 
to this union perfect God and perfect man, not 
giving up the substance of His Godhead nor 
ceasing to be of the same flesh and blood as 
we are. He, who fills all things and governs 
the universe with one word, took up His abode 
in a narrow place, and the material body of 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 183 

this blessed one received the burning fire of 
the Godhead, and as genuine gold it remained 
intact. This has taken place because God 
willed it, since His good pleasure makes things 
possible which could not happen without it. 
Then followed a strife of praise, not as if each 
was seeking to outdo the other for this is 
vainglorious and far from pleasing to God 
but as if they would leave nothing undone for 
the glory of God and the honour of God s 
Mother. 

Then Adam and Eve, our first parents, 
opened their lips to exclaim, * Thou blessed 
daughter of ours, who hast removed the 
penalty of our disobedience ! Thou, inheriting 
from us a mortal body, hast won us immor 
tality. Thou, taking thy being from us, hast 
given us back the being in grace. Thou hast 
conquered pain and loosened the bondage of 
death. Thou hast restored us to our former 
state. We had shut the door of paradise ; 
thou didst find entrance to the tree of life. 
Through us sorrow came out of good ; through 
thee good from sorrow. How canst thou who 
art all fair taste of death ? Thou art the gate 
of life and the ladder to heaven. Death is 



184 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

become the passage to immortality. O thou 
truly blessed one ! who that is not the Word 
could have borne what thou hast borne ? * 

All the company of the saints exclaimed, 
* Thou hast fulfilled our predictions. Thou 
hast purchased our present joy for us. Through 
thee we have broken the chains of death. 
Come to us, divine and life-giving receptacle. 
Come, our desire, thou who hast gained us our 
desire. 

And the saints standing by added their no 
less burning words : Remain with us, our 
comfort, our sole joy in this world. O Mother 
leave us not orphans who have suffered on 
thy Son s account. May we have thee as a 
refuge and refreshment in our labours and 
weariness. Thou canst remain if thou so 
wiliest, even as thou canst depart hence. If 
thou departest, O dwelling-place of God, let 
us go too, if we are thine through thy Son. 
Thou art our sole consolation on earth. We 
live as long as thou livest, and it is bliss to 
die with thee. Why do we speak of death ? 
Death is life to thee, and better than life 



* 6vrws fJLO.Ka.pLa cri), Tra/iyua /cap tare. Tls yap, el fj.rjTi.ye 6 \6yos 77 
i , 8 TrpdrreLV v 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 185 

incomparably exceeding this life. How is our 
life life, if we are deprived of thee ? 

The apostles and all the assembly of the 
Church may well have addressed some such 
words to the blessed Virgin. When they saw 
the Mother of God near her end and longing 
for it, they were moved by divine grace to 
sing farewell hymns, and wrapt out of the flesh, 
they sighed to accompany the dying Mother 
of God, and anticipated death through intensity 
of will. When they had all satisfied their duty 
of loving reverence and had woven her a rich 
crown of hymns, they spoke a parting blessing 
over her, as a God-given treasure, and the last 
words. These, I should think, were significant 
of this life s fleetingness, and of its leading to 
the hidden mysteries of future goods. 

This, it appears to me, is what they did at 
once and unanimously. The King was there 
to receive with divine embrace * the holy, un- 
defiled, and stainless soul of His Mother on 
her going home. And she, as we may well 
conjecture, said, * Into Thy hands, O my Son, 
I commend my spirit. Receive my soul, dear 



* x e P<?l ei ats fal dK-ripdroLs. Obscure when applied to our 
Lord. 



1 86 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



to Thee, which Thou didst keep spotless. I 
give my body to Thee, not to the earth. 
Guard that which Thou wert pleased to in 
habit and to preserve in virginity. Take me 
to Thyself, that wherever Thou art, the fruit 
of my womb, there I too may be. I am im 
pelled to Thee who didst descend to me. Do 
Thou be the consolation of my most cherished 
children, whom Thou didst vouchsafe to call 
Thy brethren, when my death leaves them in 
loneliness. Bless them afresh through my 
hands. Then stretching out her hands, as 
we may believe, she blessed all those present, 
and then she heard the words : Come, my 
beloved Mother, to thy rest. Arise and come, 
most dear amongst women, the winter is past 
and gone, the harvest time is at hand.* Thou 
art fair, my beloved, and there is no stain in 
thee. Thy fragrance is sweeter than all oint 
ments. With these words in her ear, that 
holy one gave up her spirit into the hands of 
her Son. 

What happens ? Nature, I conjecture, is 
stirred to its depths, strange sounds and voices 
are heard, and the swelling hymns of angels 

* 6 Kaipbs TT?S ro/j.rjs (f>6acre. 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 187 

who precede, accompany, and follow her. 
Some constitute the guard of honour to that 
undefiled and immaculate (iravayia) soul on its 
way to heaven until the queen reaches the divine 
throne. Others surrounding the sacred and 
divine body proclaim God s Mother in angelic 
harmony. What of those who watched by 
the most holy and immaculate (Travaylw) body ? 
In loving reverence and with tears of joy 
they gathered round the blessed and divine 
tabernacle, embracing every member, and were 
filled with holiness and thanksgiving. Then 
illnesses were cured, and demons were put to 
flight and banished to the regions of darkness. 
The air and atmosphere and heavens were 
sanctified by her passage through them, the 
earth by the burial of her body. Nor was 
water deprived of a blessing. She was washed 
in pure water. It did not cleanse her, but was 
rather itself sanctified. Then, hearing was 
given to the deaf, the lame recovered their 
feet, and the blind their sight. Sinners who 
approached with faith blotted out the hand 
writing against them. Then the holy body is 
wrapped in a snow-white winding-sheet, and 
the queen is again laid upon her bed. Then 



1 88 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



follow lights and incense and hymns, and 
angels singing as befits the solemnity ; apostles 
and patriarchs acclaiming her in inspired 
song. 

When the Ark of God, departing from 
Mount Sion for the heavenly country, was 
borne on the shoulders of the Apostles, it was 
placed on the way in the tomb. First it was 
taken through the city, as a bride dazzling 
with spiritual radiance, and then carried to the 
sacred place of Gethsemane, angels over 
shadowing it with their wings, going before, 
accompanying, and following it, together with 
the whole assembly of the Church. King 
Solomon compelled all the elders of Israel in 
Sion to bear the ark of the covenant of the 
Lord from the city of David, that is Sion, to 
rest in the temple of the Lord, which he had 
built, and the priests took the ark and the 
tabernacle of the testimony, and the priests 
and levites raised it. And the king and all 
the people sacrificed numberless oxen and 
sheep before the ark. And the priests carried 
in the ark of the testimony of God into its 
place, into the Holy of Holies, beneath the 
wings of the cherubim. So is it now with the 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 189 

dwelling-place of the true ark, no longer of the 
testimony, but the very substance of God the 
Word. The new Solomon, the Prince of 
peace, the Creator of all things in the heavens 
and on the earth, assembled together to-day 
the supporters of the new covenant, thcit is 
the Apostles, with all the people of the saints 
in Jerusalem, brought in her soul through 
angels to the true Holy of Holies, under the 
wings of the four living creatures, and set her 
on His throne within the veil, where Christ 
Himself had preceded her. Her body the 
while is borne by the Apostles hands, the 
King of Kings covering her with the splen 
dour of His invisible Godhead, the whole 
assembly of the saints preceding her, with 
sacred song and sacrifice of praise until 
through the tomb it was placed in the delights 
of Eden, the heavenly tabernacles. 

Perchance, Jews also were there, if any, not 
too reprobate were to be found. It will not be 
beside the mark to mention here a thing that 
is asserted by many. It is said that when 
those, who were carrying the blessed body of 
God s Mother, had reached the descent of the 
opposite mountains, a certain Jew, the slave of 



1QO ST JOHN DAMASCENE 



sin, and pledged by his folly, imitated the 
servant of Caiphas, who struck the divine Face 
of Christ our Lord and Master, and made 
himself the devil s instrument. Full of wicked 
passion and malice, he rushed at that most 
divine tabernacle, which angels approached 
with fear, and impiously dragged the bier with 
both his hands to the ground. This was 
prompted by the envy of the arch enemy, but 
his labours were in vain, and he reaped a 
severe and fitting reminder of his deed. It is 
said that he lost the use of his hands, which 
had perpetrated his malicious deed, until faith 
moved him to repentance. The bearers were 
standing near. The wretched man placed his 
hands on the wondrous and life-giving taber 
nacle, and they again became sound. Circum 
stances had made him wise, as often happens. 
But let us return to our subject. 

Then they reached the most sacred Geth- 
semane, and once more there were embracings 
and prayers and panegyrics, hymns and tears, 
poured forth by sorrowful and loving hearts. 
They mingled a flood of weeping and sweat 
ing.^ And thus the immaculate (iravdyiov) 

Kal 7)v ifteiv idp&ras /ecu daKpva rots xevfj-affiv a/m,i\\<*)fj.va. 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY IQI 



body was laid in the tomb. Then it was 
assumed after three days to the heavenly 
mansions. The bosom of the earth was no 
fitting receptacle for the Lord s dwelling-place, 
the living source of cleansing water, the corn of 
heavenly bread, the sacred vine of divine wine, 
the evergreen and fruitful olive-branch of 
God s mercy. And just as the all holy body 
of God s Son, which was taken from her, rose 
from the dead on the third day, it followed 
that she should be snatched from the tomb, 
that the mother should be united to her Son ; 
and as He had come down to her, so she 
should be raised up to Him, into the more 
perfect dwelling-place, heaven itself. It was 
meet that she, who had sheltered God the 
Word in her own womb, should inhabit the 
tabernacles of her Son. And as our Lord 
said it behoved Him to be concerned with His 
Father s business, so it behoved His mother 
that she should dwell in the courts of her Son, 
in the house of the Lord, and in the courts of 
the house of our God. If all those who rejoice 
dwell in Him, where must the cause itself of joy 
abide ? It was fitting that the body of her, who 
preserved her virginity unsullied in her mother- 



192 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

hood, should be kept from corruption even 
after death. She who nursed her Creator as 
an infant at her breast, had a right to be in the 
divine tabernacles. The place of the bride 
whom the Father had espoused, was in the 
heavenly courts. It was fitting that she who 
saw her Son die on the cross, and received in 
her heart the sword of pain which she had not 
felt in childbirth, should gaze upon Him 
seated next to the Father. The Mother of 
God had a right to the possession of her Son, 
and as handmaid and Mother of God to the 
worship of all creation. The inheritance of the 
parents ever passes to the children. Now, 
as a wise man said, the sources of sacred 
waters are above. The Son made all creation 
serve His Mother. 

Let us then also keep solemn feast to-day to 
honour the joyful departure of God s Mother, 
not with flutes nor corybants, nor the orgies 
of Cybele, the mother of false gods, as they 
say, whom foolish people talk of as a fruitful 
mother of children, and truth as no mother at 
all. These are demons and false imaginings. 
They usurp what they are not by nature to 
impose upon human folly. For how can what 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 193 

is bodiless lead the wedded life*? How can 
that be god which, not being before, is present 
only after birth ? That devils were bodiless is 
apparent to all, even to those who are in 
tellectually blind. Homer somewhere testifies 
to the condition of the gods he honours : 

They eat not barley, and drink not ruddy wine, 
So they are bloodless and are called immortal. 

They eat not bread, he says, neither do they 
drink fiery wine. On this account they are 
anaemic, that is, without blood, and are called 
immortals. He truly and appropriately says, 
are called. They are called immortals 
They are not that which they are called. 
They died the death of wickedness. Now 
we worship God, not God beginning His 
being, but who always was and is above all 
cause and argument or created mind or nature. 
We honour and reverence the Mother of God, 
not ascribing to her the eternal generation of 
His Godhead. For the generation of God 
the Word was not in time, and was co-eternal 
with the Father. We acknowledge a second 
generation in His spontaneous taking flesh, 
and we see and know the cause of this. He 

* ycvva yap TTWS ex ffvv5va.(r/j.ov rb dau/JMTOv, /cat riva. rpoirov /itx^^ 

N 



194 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

who is without beginning and without body 
takes flesh for us as one of ourselves. And 
taking flesh of this sacred Virgin, He is born 
without man, remaining Himself perfect God, 
and becoming perfect man, perfect God in His 
flesh, and perfect Man in His Godhead. Thus, 
recognising God s Mother in this Virgin, we 
celebrate her falling asleep, not proclaiming 
her as God far be from us these heathen 
fables since we are announcing her death, but 
recognising her as the Mother of the Incarnate 
God. 

O people of Christ, let us acclaim her to-day 
in sacred song, acknowledge our own good 
fortune and proclaim it. Let us honour her 
in nocturnal vigil ; let us delight in her purity 
of soul and body, for she next to God surpasses 
all in purity. It is natural for similar things 
to glory in each other. Let us show our love 
for her by compassion and kindness towards 
the poor. For if mercy is the best worship 
of God, who will refuse to show His Mother 
devotion in the same way ? She opened to us 
the unspeakable abyss of God s love for us. 
Through her the old enmity against the 
Creator is destroyed. Through her our 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 195 

reconciliation with Him is strengthened, peace 
and grace are given to us, men are the 
companions of angels, and we, who were in 
dishonour, are made the children of God. 
From her we have plucked the fruit of life. 
From her we have received the seed of 
immortality. She is the channel of all our 
goods. In her God was man and man was 
God. What more marvellous or more blessed ? 
I approach the subject in fear and trembling. 
With Mary, the prophetess, O youthful souls, 
let us sound our musical instruments, mortify 
ing our members on earth, for this is spiritual 
music. Let our souls rejoice in the Ark of 
God, and the walls of Jericho will yield, I 
mean the fortresses of the enemy. Let us 
dance in spirit with David ; to-day the Ark 
of God is at rest. With Gabriel, the great 
archangel, let us exclaim, Hail, full of grace, 
the Lord is with thee. Hail, inexhaustible 
ocean of grace. Hail, sole refuge in grief. 
Hail, cure of hearts. Hail, through whom 
death is expelled and life is installed. 

And you I will speak to as if living, most 
sacred of tombs, after the life-giving tomb of our 
Lord, which is the source of the resurrection. 



196 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

Where is the pure gold which apostolic hands 
confided to you ? Where is the inexhaustible 
treasure? Where the precious receptacle of 
God ? Where is the living table ? Where the 
new book in which the incomprehensible Word 
of God is written without hands ? Where is 
the abyss of grace and the ocean of healing ? 
Where is the life-giving fountain ? Where is 
the sweet and loved body of God s Mother ? 

Why* do you seek in the tomb one who 
has been assumed to the heavenly courts ? 
Why do you make me responsible for not 
keeping her ? I was powerless to go against 
the divine commands. That sacred and holy 
body, leaving the winding-sheet behind, filled 
me full of sweet fragrance, sanctified me by its 
contact, and fulfilled the divine scheme, and 
was then assumed, angels and archangels and 
all the heavenly powers escorting it. Now 
angels surround me, and divine grace abounds 
in me. I am the physician of the sick. I 
am a perpetual source of health, and the terror 
of demons. I am a city of refuge for fugitives. 
Approach with faith and you will receive a sea 
of graces. Come, you of weak faith. All you 
* The supposed answer of the tomb. 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 197 

that thirst, come to the waters in obedience 
to Isaias commands, and you who have no 
money, come and buy for nothing. I call upon 
all with the Gospel invitation. Let him who 
longs for bodily or spiritual cure, forgiveness 
of sins, deliverance from misfortune, the pos 
session of heaven, approach me with faith, and 
draw hence a strong and rich stream of grace. 
Just as the action of one and the same water 
acts differently on the earth, air, and sun, 
according to the nature of each, producing 
wine in the vine and oil in the olive-tree, so 
does one and the same grace profit each person 
according to his needs. I do not possess 
grace on my own account. A tomb given up to 
corruption, an object of sorrow and dejection, 
I receive a precious ointment, and am impreg 
nated with it, and this sweet fragrance alters 
my condition whilst it lasts. Truly, divine 
graces flow where they will. I have sheltered 
the source of joy, and I have become rich in its 
perennial fountain.* 

What shall we answer the tomb ? You have 
indeed rich and abiding grace, but divine power 
is not restricted by place, neither is the Mother 
* An imauthentic paragraph omitted. 



198 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

of God s working. If it were confined to the 
tomb alone, few would be the richer. Now it 
is freely distributed in all parts of the world. 
Let us then make our memory serve as a store 
house of God s Mother. How shall this be ? 
She is a virgin and a lover of virginity. She 
is pure and a lover of purity. If we purify our 
mind with the body, we shall possess her grace. 
She shuns all impurity and impure passions. 
She has a horror of intemperance, and a special 
hatred for fornication. She turns from its 
allurements as from the progeny of serpents 
. . . She looks upon all sin as death-inflicting, 
rejoicing in all good. Contraries are cured by 
contraries. She delights in fasting and con 
tinence and spiritual canticles, in purity, 
virginity, and wisdom. With these she is ever 
at peace, and takes them to her heart. She 
embraces peace and a meek spirit, and love, 
mercy, and humility as her children. In a 
word, she grieves over every sin, and is glacl 
at all goodness as if it were her own. If we 
turn away from our former sins in all earnest 
ness and love goodness with all our hearts, 
and make it our constant companion, she will 
frequently visit her servants, bringing all bless- 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 1 99 

ings with her, Christ her Son, the King and 
Lord who reigns in our hearts. To Him be 
glory, praise, honour, power, and magnificence, 
with the eternal Father and the Holy Spirit, 
now and for ever. 



SERMON III. 

ON THE ASSUMPTION (KoifJL9i<ri$). 

LOVERS are wont to speak of what they love, 
and to let their fancy run on it by day and 
night. Let no one therefore blame me, if I 
add a third tribute to the Mother of God, on 
her triumphant departure. I am not profiting 
her, but myself and you who are here present, 
putting before you a spiritual seasoning and 
refreshment in keeping with this holy night. 
We are suffering, as you see, from scarcity of 
eatables. Therefore I am extemporising a 
repast, which, if not very costly nor worthy of 
the occasion, will certainly be sufficient to still 
hunger. She does not need our praise. It is 
we who need her glory. How indeed can 
glory be glorified, or the source of light be 
enlightened ? We are weaving a crown for 
ourselves in the doing. f I live, the Lord says, 
and I will glorify those who glorify Me. 



202 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

Wine is truly pleasant to drink, and bread to 
eat. The one rejoices, the other strengthens 
the heart of man. But what is sweeter than 
the Mother of my God ? She has taken my 
mind captive, and held my tongue in bondage. 
I think of her by day and night. She, the 
Mother of the Word, supplies my words. The 
fruit of sterility makes sterile minds fruitful. 
We keep to-day the feast of her blessed and 
divine transit from this world. Let us then 
climb up the mystical mountain, where beyond 
the reach of worldly things, passing through 
the obscurity of storm, we stand in the divine 
light and may give praise to Almighty power. 
How does He, who dwells in the splendour of 
His glory, descend into the Virgin s womb 
without leaving the bosom of the Father? 
How is He conceived in the flesh, and does He 
spontaneously suffer, and suffer unto death, in 
that material body, gaining immortality 

through corruptibility ? (<j>6opa Krr}<ra/ULevos TO 

a^Qaprov). And, again, ascending to the Father, 
He drew His Mother, according to the flesh, to 
His own Father, assuming into the heavenly 
country her who was heaven on earth. 

To-day the living ladder, through whom the 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 203 

Most High descended and was seen on earth, 
and conversed with men, was assumed into 
heaven by death. To-day the heavenly table, 
she, who contained the bread of life, the fire 
of the Godhead, without knowing man, was 
assumed from earth to heaven, and the gates 
of heaven opened wide to receive the gate of 
God from the East. To-day the living city of 
God is transferred from the earthly to the 
heavenly Jerusalem, and she, who, conceived 
her first-born and only Son, the first-born of 
all creation, the only begotten of the Father, 
rests in the Church of the first-born : the true 
and living Ark of the Lord is taken to the peace 
of her Son. The gates of heaven are opened 
to receive the receptacle of God, who, bringing 
forth the tree of life, destroyed Eve s dis 
obedience and Adam s penalty of death. And 
Christ, the cause of all life, receives the chosen 
mirror, the mountain from which the stone 
without hands filled the whole earth. She, who 
brought about the Word s divine Incarnation, 
rests in her glorious tomb as in a bridal- 
chamber, whence she goes to the heavenly 
bridals, to share in the kingdom of her Son 
and God, leaving her tomb as a place of rest 



2O4 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

for those on earth. Is her tomb indeed a 
resting-place? Yes, more famous than any 
other, not shining with gold, or silver, or 
precious stones, nor covered with silken, golden, 
or purple adornments, but with the divine 
radiance of the Holy Spirit. The angelic state 
is not for lovers of this world, but the wondrous 
life of the blessed is for the servants of the 
Spirit, and passing to God is better and 
sweeter than any other life. This tomb is 
fairer than Eden. And that I may not speak 
of the enemy s deceit, in the one ; of his, so to 
say, clever counsel, his envy and covetousness, 
of Eve s weakness and pliability, the bait, sure 
and tempting, which cheated her and her 
husband, their disobedience, exile, and death, 
not to speak of these things so as not to 
turn our feast into sorrow, this grave gave up 
the mortal body it contained to the heavenly 
country. Eve became the mother of the human 
family, and is not man made after the divine 
image, convicted by her condemnation ; * earth 
thou art, and unto earth thou shalt return. 
This tomb is more precious than the tabernacle 
of old, receiving the real and life-giving re 
ceptacle of the Lord, the heavenly table, not 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 2O5 

the loaves of proposition, but of heaven, not 
material fire, but her who contained the pure 
fire of the Godhead. This tomb is holier than 
the ark of Moses, blessed not with types and 
shadows, but the truth itself. It showed forth 
the pure and golden urn, containing the heavenly 
manna, the living tablet, receiving the Incarnate 
Word of God from the impress of the Holy 
Spirit, the golden censer of the supersubstantial 
word. It showed forth her who conceived the 
divine fire embalming all creation. 

Let demons take to flight, and the thrice 
miserable Nestorians perish as the Egyptians of 
old, and their ruler Pharao, the younger, a cruel 
devastator. They were swallowed up in the 
abyss of blasphemy. Let us who are saved 
with dry feet, crossing the bitter waters of 
impiety, raise our voices to the Mother of God 
at her departure. Let Mary, personifying the 
Church, lead the joyful strain. Let the maidens 
of the spiritual Jerusalem go out in singing 
choirs. Let kings and judges, with rulers, 
youths, and virgins, young and old, proclaim 
the Mother of God, and all peoples and nations 
in their different ways and tongues, sing a new 
canticle. Let the air resound with praise and 



206 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

instrument, and the sun gladden this day of 
salvation. Rejoice, O heavens, and may the 
clouds rain justice. Be glad, O divine apostles, 
the chosen ones of God s flock, who seem to 
reach the highest visions, as lofty mountain 
tops. And you God s sheep, and His holy 
people, the flock of the Church, who look to 
the high mountains of perfection, be sad, for 
the fountain of life, God s Mother, is dead. It 
was necessary that what was made of earth 
should return to earth, and thus be assumed to 
heaven. It was fitting that the earthly tene 
ment should be cast off, as gold is purified, so 
that the flesh in death might become pure and 
immortal, and rise in shining immortality from 
the tomb. 

To-day she begins her second life through 
Him who was the cause of her first being. 
She gave a beginning, I mean, the life of the 
body, to Him who had no beginning in time, 
although the Father was the cause of His 
divine existence. Rejoice holy and divine 
Mount Sion, in which reposes the living divine 
mountain, the new Bethel, with its grace, 
human nature united with the Godhead. 
From thee her Son ascended to heaven as 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 2O7 

from the olives. Let the world-embracing 
cloud be prepared and the winds gather the 
apostles to Mount Sion from the ends of the 
earth. Who are these who soar up as clouds 
and eagles to the cause of all resurrection, 
ministering to the Mother of God ? Who 
is she who rises resplendent, all pure, and 
bright as the sun ? Let the. spiritual lyres 
sing to her, the apostolic tongues. Let grave 
theologians raise their voices in praise, 
Hierotheus, the vessel of election, in whom 
the Holy Spirit abides, knowing and teaching 
divine things by the divine indwelling. Let 
him be wrapt out of the body and join 
willingly in the joyful hymn. Let all nations 
clap their hands and praise the Mother of 
God. Let angels minister to her body. 
Follow your Queen, O daughters of Jerusalem, 
and, together with her virgins in the spirit, 
approach your Bridegroom in order to sit at 
His right hand. Make haste, Lord, to give 
Thy Mother the welcome which is her due. 
Stretch out Thy divine hands. Receive Thy 
Mother s soul into the Father s hands unto 
which Thou didst commend Thy spirit on 
the Cross. Speak sweet words to her : 



208 ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

Come, my beloved, whose purity is more 
dazzling than the sun, thou gavest me of thy 
own, receive now what is mine. Come, my 
Mother, to thy Son, reign with Him who was 
poor with thee. Depart, O Queen, depart, 
not as Moses did who went up to die. Die 
rather that thou mayest ascend. Give up 
thy soul into the hands of thy Son. Return 
earth to the earth, it will be no obstacle. 
Lift up your eyes, O people of God. See in 
Sion the Ark of the Lord God of powers, and 
the apostles standing by it, burying the life- 
giving body which received our Lord. In 
visible angels are all around in lowly reverence 
doing homage to the Mother of their Lord. 
The Lord Himself is there, who is present 
everywhere, and filling all things, the universal 
Being, not in place. He is the Author and 
Creator of all things. Behold the Virgin, the 
daughter of Adam and Mother of God ; 
through Adam she gives her body to the 
earth, her soul to her Son above in the 
heavenly courts. Let the holy city be 
sanctified, and rejoice in eternal praise. Let 
angels precede the divine tabernacle on its 
passage, and prepare the tomb. Let the 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 2OQ 

radiance of the spirit adorn it. Let sweet 
ointment be made ready and poured over the 
pure and undefiled body. Let a clear stream 
of grace flow from grace in its source. Let 
the earth be sanctified by contact with that 
body. Let the air rejoice at the Assumption. 
Let gentle breezes waft grace. Let all nature 
keep the feast of the Mother of God s 
Assumption. May youthful bands applaud 
and eloquent tongues acclaim her, and wise 
hearts ponder on the wonder, priests hoary 
with age gather strength at the sight. Let 
all creation emulate heaven, even so the true 
measure of rejoicing would not be reached. 

Come, let us depart with her. Come, let us 
descend to that tomb with all our heart s desire. 
Let us draw round that most sacred bed and 
sing the sweet words, Hail, full of grace, the 
Lord is with thee. Hail, predestined Mother 
of God. Hail, thou chosen one in the design 
of God from all eternity, most sacred hope of 
earth, resting-place of divine fire, holiest delight 
of the Spirit, fountain of living water, paradise 
of the tree of life, divine vine-branch, bringing 
forth soul - sustaining nectar and ambrosia. 

Full river of spiritual graces, fertile land of the 

o 



2IO ST JOHN DAMASCENE 

divine pastures, rose of purity, with the sweet 
fragrance of grace, lily of the royal robe, pure 
Mother of the Lamb of God who takes away 
the sins of the world, token of our redemp 
tion, handmaid and Mother, surpassing angelic 
powers. Come, let us stand round that pure 
tomb and draw grace to our hearts. Let us 
raise the ever-virginal body with spiritual arms, 
and go with her into the grave to die with 
her. Let us renounce our passions, and live 
with her in purity, listening to the divine 
canticles of angels in the heavenly courts. Let 
us go in adoring, and learn the wondrous 
mystery by which she is assumed to heaven, 
to be with her Son, higher than all the angelic 
choirs. No one stands between Son and 
Mother. This, O Mother of God, is my third 
sermon on thy departure, in lowly reverence to 
the Holy Trinity to whom thou didst minister, 
the goodness of the Father, the power of the 
Spirit, receiving the Uncreated Word, the 
Almighty Wisdom and Power of God. Accept, 
then, my good-will, which is greater than my 
capacity, and give us salvation. Heal our 
passions, cure our diseases, help us out of 
our difficulties, make our lives peaceful, send 



ON CROWNING OF OUR LADY 211 

us the illumination of the Spirit. Inflame us 
with the desire of thy Son. Render us pleas 
ing to Him, so that we may enjoy happiness 
with Him, seeing thee resplendent with thy 
Son s glory, rejoicing for ever, keeping feast 
in the Church with those who worthily cele 
brate Him who worked our salvation through 
thee, Christ the Son of God, and our God. 
To Him be glory and majesty, with the un 
created Father and the all-holy and life-giving 
Spirit, now and for ever, through the endless 
ages of eternity. Amen. 



INDEX 

Abraham and sons of Emmor, 9 ; image of God, 123. 

Adam and Eve addressing Our Lady, 183. 

Ambrose of Milan, St, on Incarnation, 136. 

Amphilochius, addressed by St Basil, 34. 

Angarus, King of Edessa, 33. 

Angelic nature not taken by God, 102. 

Anne, St, her name, 156. 

Ark of God, the true, 168, 188 ; at rest, 195. 

Assumption of Our Lady, 202, 207, 209, 210. 

Athanasius, Archbishop of Antioch, 141. 

Athanasius, St, his testimony, 120. 

Augustine, St, de Civitate Dei, 57. 

Babylon, three children in, 132. 

Baltasar, impiety of, no. 

Basil, St, on Tradition, 28 ; on St Gordion, 37 ; on Forty 

Martyrs, 117. 
Berenice of Paneada, 124. 
Body of Christ in Holy Eucharist, 102. 
Brazen Serpent, image of the Cross, 50. 
Burial of Our Lady, 190, 191, 208. 
Burning bush, image of Our Lady, 79. 

Cherubim, image of, 14. 

Chrysostom, St John, his testimony, 83, 118, 121 ; on 

the Machabees, 137 ; to Julian the Apostate, 138. 
Church assailed by enemies, i . 

P 



214 INDEX. 

Constantine, zeal for images, 126. 

Cross, veneration of, 78, 130, 134. 

Cyril of Alexandria, St, 121. 

Cyril of Jerusalem, 137 ; to Julian the Apostate, 138. 

Daniel and David, worship of, 13. 

Denis the Areopagite, 10 ; on images, 31, 96. 

Denis, St, of Athens, 116. 

Deuteronomy, testimony of, 6, 63. 

Divine things clothed in form, 99. 

Egyptians, their burial, 29. 
Elias taken to heaven, 166. 
Eliseus, a wonder-worker, 45. 
Epiphanius, St, on images, 29, 77. 
Eupraxia, St, 51. 
Ezechiel, his vision, 46, 128, 162. 

Forty martyrs, 38, 40, 117. 

Francis de Sales, St, on the Cross, 47. 

Gabriel, St, sent to Mary, 157. 

Godhead, not to be represented, 5, 8, 9, 14, 15, 62, 67, 98. 

Gregory of Nazianzen, St, 122. 

Gregory of Nyssa, St, 41. 

Holy places, 109 ; things, no. 
Homer, on the gods, 193. 

Idolatry of Israelites, 80. 

Idol worship of heathens, 77. 

Images, dishonour shown to, 68, 86 ; worship of, 74, 75, 

89 ; definition of, 92 ; kinds, 93, 94, 95, 97, 106, 133 ; 

of saints, a fruitful worship, 112. 
Invisible things through visible, n. 
Isaias, his vision of God, 100; virgin foretold by, 162. 

Jacob, his worship, 9, 13, 131 j typical, 27 ; receiving 
Joseph s cloak, 132 ; ladder of, 161. 



INDEX. 215 

Jews, their proneness to idolatry, 8. 
Jezabel, punishment of, 70. 
Joachim, St, 154. 
Jordan, stones of, 20, 97. 
Joseph, worshipped by brothers, 14. 
Josue, worshipped an angel, 101. 

King s image, value of, 136 ; kings not legislators in the 
Church, 52, 69, 76. 

Latreia, worship of, 7 ; given to God alone, 64, 104, 107. 
Law, image of the future, 82, 140; observances of, 18 ; 

images of, 46, 49, 81, 88 ; superseded by grace, 73. 
Leo of Neapolis, on the Cross, 43. 

Matter not despicable, 17, 71, 72; consecrated, 127. 

Mary of Egypt, St, praying to Our Lady, 51, 143, 145. 

Maximus, St, his testimony, 84. 

Methodius, St, on images, 145. 

Moses, testimony of, 53, 60, 65 ; worships Jethor, 134. 

Mother of God, 12 ; images of, 97 ; worship of, 54, 91 ; 
death of, 164, 186 ; her Assumption, 166, 167, 173, 
176 ; the city of God, 148 ; her praises, 150 ; her 
birth, 150; her presentation, 156; her grace, 158; 
her virginity, 159, 173; a spiritual Eden, 160; her 
intercession, what, 169 ; the new Eden, 174 ; heaven, 
175 ; her death, painless, 177 ; eye-witnesses of, 181 ; 
saint of saints, 178 ; her right to worship of all, 192; 
heavenly bridals of, 203 ; fountain of life, 206. 

Our Lord s human birth, 194. 

Persecutors of saints punished, 70. 
Peter, St, chief of apostles, 26. 
Pharao worshipped by Jacob, 9. 

Saints, why honoured, 21, 23, 24 ; their shadow, 113 ; our 
worship of, 108. 



2l6 INDEX. 

Scripture, true interpretation of, 66. 

Severianus, on the Cross, 139. 

Simon Stylites, St, venerated in Rome, 119. 

Sion, what, 179 

Solomon and the temple, 22, 45, 129. 

Spiritual conceptions through corporeal things, 90. 

Tomb of Our Lady, 196, 197, 205, 210; fairer than Eden, 
204. 

Tradition, ancient, 114; unwritten, 75. 
Types, honourable, 142. 

Worship, false, 56, 57, 58; kinds of, 104, 105, 106, 108, 
in.